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Opinion

Stockholm syndrome: Time to relent to our masters, the Melbourne Storm

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Expert
2nd September, 2020
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In the 1998 film Out of Sight, Jennifer Lopez is taken hostage in the boot of a car before falling for her sexy captor, a greying criminal mastermind who resembles George Clooney but is probably Cameron Smith.

In an eerily similar case of Stockholm syndrome, we must begin appreciating and even adoring life at gunpoint inside the trunk of our unassailable masters, the Melbourne Storm.

Melbourne have defied predictions to again be heisting the NSWRL premiership, even with the loss of many criminal lynchpins and the uncertainty of life amid a pandemic, and now worse, Queenslanders.

Their march towards another top-four finish continued on Sunday with a workmanlike win over Manly, a familiarly steady affair that failed to emulate the rivalry’s halcyon days due to no brawling or formidable opposition.

It was the latest chapter in another inevitable intrusion to the finals for the southern powerhouse, one that puts to bed any chat of another downturn like the predicted declines of 2010 (cap saga), 2018 (the loss of Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater) and 1994 (no Craig Bellamy).

Billy Slater Melbourne Storm NRL Rugby League Grand Final 2017

Billy Slater and Cameron Smith (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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Many judges had nailed their flags to the Storm fading under the post-COVID rule changes, especially after Canberra marked the restart with their third consecutive triumph over Bellamy’s side.

However, the side has since adapted to the new parameters, confirming the worse-held belief that they can’t even be stopped by changing the rules. This means they will remain in power until the NRL can make a significant tweak to laws, like shot-clocking the play-the-ball or reversing Federation.

Accepting Melbourne’s domineering will never end in our lifetimes, it is time to shelve the petty condemnation of this nefarious, possibly unconstitutional News Limited-backed dojo by relenting to their sovereignty and cow bells.

Trust me, life will improve as soon as you release any notion of freedom and accept the Storm will forever be impossible to beat and like, much in the same way we have adapted to living with other scourges like coronavirus and the gluten-intolerant.

For those new to this inexplicable animosity, countless words have been written on the reasons why we miserable NSWRL traditionalists include Melbourne in the same breath as other evil empires like Russia and Victoria.

But out of respect, we will not revisit the club’s litany of transgressions such as salary cap breaches, wrestling and making AFL fans feel good about ‘rugby’. After all, we must remain decorous, plus they’re likely to have something currently before the courts.

While there have been fleeting moments of begrudging appreciation – an insurgent rectangle stadium behind enemy lines, Ryan Papenhuyzen’s eyes popping against purple – we couldn’t even be persuaded by the club’s prominent role in the demise of the Broncos.

By way of a superior talent-identification program and the hoarding of Bellamy, the Storm have been celebrated as the force most responsible for Brisbane’s demise outside of expansion and Paul White. But we don’t care, because they’re the only team in the NRL that wrestle.

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Further salting our saltiness, there have been many false alarms where we separatists have gleefully toasted their demise, often claiming “this was definitely it” after seeing nothing in their previous 20 years of relentless success to tell us otherwise.

We harked the retirements of a litany of superstars would kill off their dominance, but in a blink of an eye they’ve blooded Papenhuyzen, Brandon Smith and Harry Grant to ably continue the legacy left behind by immortals Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Harry Grant.

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All that’s left is to pin our hopes on is the club folding under the crippling choosiness of Cam Smith, and that he delays a call on his retirement every year until he finishes in 2045.

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In summary, the Storm will be figuring prominently in our lives for the indefinite future, or until Peter V’landys fully blooms his growth strategy of expansion in to Logan and Lansvale.

And if you’re not on board with accepting your status as a hostage, there’s no easier time than tonight when they present an alternative to Souths.