I can already feel your rage and angst in me declaring Cooper Cronk as a better halfback than Johnathan Thurston. I also know everything you’re going to say in argument.
2020 NRL season has come to an end, and the Storm of Melbourne, have come through victorious. It seems to be there are three things you can count on: death, taxes and the Melbourne Storm winning.
For what was a very odd season and odd year in general, the Storm culled out a gritty win against a young Panthers side, to top off what could have been their best premiership ever.
As perfect as a premiership is, there is always a few underlying factors as to how the premiership came about.
Let’s rewind back to May, when the pandemic hit crisis stages in Victoria. The competition kicks back off and the Storm are forced to travel to Albury to set up a quick camp.
That camp finishes and they’re told to head to the Sunshine Coast to assist in keeping the competition alive. This is in June, keep in mind…
What the players did not know, was that they would not be leaving the Sunshine Coast and would eventually be living out of a bag for the remainder of the year (with no family at the time being).
As bad as this sounds, and it really is a bad ordeal to have to go through, so many outside things attributed to this ‘Perfect Storm’.
To name a few, here’s what I think helped drive the Storm to this premiership:
1: Roosters losing Cooper Cronk (and Latrell Mitchell). The Roosters always had one up on the Storm, as their chief playmaker of 15 years, was now in Tricolours.
In 2018 this was evident, with the Storm losing in a GF to the Roosters and in 2019, where they lost a preliminary final, purely just looking outplayed and outsmarted. The loss of a strong outside back weapon helped, also.
2: Redemption. Losing in 2018 and 2019 to the same side, fuelled them to make a better run home in 2020.
3: Doubters. Haters or doubters, the Storm always have plenty. From James Hooper’s 25 article, to Gus Gould saying they didn’t have another gear to go too – all the outside gossip affects them more because they been saying it all and people general dislike the Storm.
4: No Origin. The no Origin effect from the COVID break, seemed to have really helped the Storm. No extra games where there may have been 7-10 Storm players playing in Origin made the difference.
5: Out of sight, out of mind. Being up north, in their own bubble (literally) they would have missed almost 90 per cent of the criticism they copped in the newspaper in other states.
6: The bubble helped? Sounds, weird, but when you break it down, it does make sense. They were in a bubble for almost five months with each other and their partners.
Albeit, most partners didn’t spend the entire five months with them, but some were there for lengthy periods.
I think the bubble’s best effect would’ve been uniting players together, especially ones who may never have hung out with each other before.
Creating a home away from home would have been the best situation, with partners meeting new people, players being able to develop bonds and relationships off field, would’ve created stronger bonds on the field.
It isn’t easy living out of a bag and your own bed, but I think as hard as it was, it was a strong factor to their success.
Lastly, playing for Victoria and possibly their captain. Victoria has been affected the most by COVID. Full lockdowns and grid lockdowns have plagued the state in generally.
Having that big “V” on their chest, gave them something to play and dedicated their season too. Also, if their captain decides to retire, that would’ve been a good enough incentive to win, too.
As noted, small things have to go right for teams to win a premiership, and I think 2020 was that year for the Storm.
For me, I knew redemption was coming. 2020 was always the ‘Last Dance’ type of vibe, before they lost huge mass of players, and it seemed like they were building to a premiership.
With small things going right, big things can happen. The Storm’s season was tumultuous at times and sometimes crazy, but they made it through and won the ultimate goal, thus creating the ‘Perfect Storm’.