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Opinion

The forgotten players: Melbourne Storm

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Roar Guru
12th November, 2020
34

This is the fourth instalment in the series about players who only briefly represented your club.

The Storm have been at the top of the game from just about the time they first entered the competition in 1998. Since then, just over 200 players have played first grade for the club, and many of these are absolute legends of the game.

Everybody knows Melbourne legends like Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, Cooper Cronk and Ryan Hoffman. But how many of you can remember the players whose stints at the club were over in the blink of an eye?

Here’s a team made up of players who represented the Storm on only five or fewer occasions. Surely, even the most staunch fan won’t remember any of them.

1. Paul Sheedy
Sheedy was a junior rugby star before playing in the Brisbane league competition. He was called up for duty with the Storm in 2001 as a replacement for the injured Robbie Ross. He made just two appearances for the Victorian club that year before switching back to rugby with the NSW Waratahs midway through the season.

2. Sam Joe
A Torres Strait Islander, Joe had big wraps on him as a Storm junior and played two games for the club in the 2008 season. Unfortunately, a lack of fitness combined with an inability to settle in Melbourne saw him walk away from his four-year contract with Melbourne and head to central Queensland to work in the mines and play in the local competition.

3. Willie Isa
A Panthers junior, Isa has gone on to have a long career at the top, notching up over 230 games in both the NRL and Super League since 2008. On the way through, Isa played five games for the Storm across the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Isa currently plays for the Wigan Warriors.

4. Josh Graham
The big, hard-running centre started in union before switching to the Storm in 2005, where he managed just one game in first grade. Graham then moved back to rugby for the following season with the Western Force before finishing his career with four seasons with the Titans. A true code hopper!

AAMI Park, Melbourne

(Photo by: Andrew Woodley/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

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5. Aseri Laing
A Wests junior, Laing moved from the Tigers to the Storm for the 2005 season and was selected in first grade on five occasions. He then finished his career in the Queensland competition.

6. Dane Chisholm
A halfback or five-eighth, Chisholm was with Melbourne from 2011 to 2015 but managed only one first grade appearance in that time when he was selected in Round 10 in 2011, and that was on the wing as a late replacement! He has played in England since 2016.

7. Marty Turner
A Kiwi, Turner played just three games for Melbourne across the 2002 and 2003 seasons, usually as a replacement for Matt Orford. At the time, Cameron Smith was the third-string halfback behind Orford and Turner! Unfortunately, Turner’s career never reached its potential after his involvement in a serious car accident.

8. Sinbad Kali
Now, surely this is a name that can’t be forgotten. Sinbad was a big unit hailing from the Central Coast, and he played his one and only NRL game when selected on the bench for Storm’s Round 16 match in 2008, filling in for players unavailable due to Origin commitments.

9. Joel Romelo
The Redcliffe junior came to the Storm in 2014 via the Bulldogs, playing just two games off the bench before returning to the Queensland Cup. Romelo had a series of issues with the law after leaving Victoria.

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10. Jamie McDonald
Hailing from Tweed Heads, McDonald played for the Adelaide Rams and the Cowboys before transferring to Melbourne in 2005, where his only two appearances were off the bench.

11. Nathan Sologinkin
Sologinkin played 32 NRL games over a seven-year career, the last of which was off the bench for the Storm in their Round 13 loss to South Sydney in the 2003 season. Another player who fell foul of the law after leaving the game.

12. Matthew Bartlett
After coming through the Newcastle Knights system, Bartlett signed with Melbourne for the 2006 and 2007 seasons, representing them on three occasions. He spent the next two years with the Cowboys before returning to the Newcastle competition as captain-coach of Lakes United.

13. Wade Fenton
A big, athletic back-rower, Sunshine State-born Fenton represented the Storm on five occasions – two appearances in 1998 and three in 2000. These were his only NRL games.

14. Liam Foran
Born in Auckland but a North Sydney junior, the halfback or five-eighth never experienced the same success as his more famous brother, playing just 25 NRL games in seven years. The first three of those were for the Storm in the 2008 season.

15. Clifford Manua
A giant forward tipping the scales at around 120 kilograms, Manua played four games for the club in the 2008 season after joining them following brief stints at Cronulla and Brisbane.

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16. Keith Mason
A Yorkshireman, Mason was a tough front-row forward who played nearly 260 top-level games over a 14-year career, primarily in England. His only stint in the NRL was with Melbourne in the 2002 and 2003 seasons when he was selected for just four games in the top grade. Mason transitioned to an acting career after retiring from football at the end of the 2013 season.

17. Vincent Leuluai
A Minto Cobras junior, the big front-rower entered the Roosters system in 2012, eventually making his first-grade debut for the Chooks in 2016. He then signed for Melbourne in 2017 and was selected for two games. He went on to join the North Sydney Bears for the following season.

Two other notable “one gamers” were representative forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs – who played one game for the Storm in 2015 before injuries forced his retirement – and Michael Greenfield, who also made just the solitary appearance for the Victorian club in 2012 before his career was ended by a Ben Te’o shoulder charge.