Category: Storm


Blair back up the front

In-demand Adam Blair’s absence from the Melbourne Storm front row has turned out to be more of a weekend break than an extended holiday. Blair spent the pre-season preparing to play in the back row and was named there for the opening-round win over Manly. But coach Craig Bellamy decided on a late reshuffle of his pack, with Blair starting in the front row in place of Bryan Norrie and being one of the Storm’s best in the 18-6 victory over the Sea Eagles. The coaching staff must have been pleased, with Blair listed at prop for Saturday’s home game against Gold Coast, allowing Kevin Proctor – who also shone against Manly – to start in the back row. “I thought I was going to be on the edge but the coach wants me in the middle so I’ve got to do some hard work,” Blair said on Wednesday. “The fitness is a little bit tougher in there, but once I get one game out of the way it can only get better.” Continue reading

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Chase Stanley gone for season

Injury-prone Melbourne centre Chase Stanley has been crushed by news he requires a full knee reconstruction and will miss the rest of the NRL season. The promising St George junior made just seven appearances in his first season for the Storm last year, and now another shadow has been cast over his career. Scans on Tuesday revealed an ACL injury that required a full reconstruction. The 21-year-old suffered the injury during the first half of Saturday night’s 18-6 first round victory over Manly and was surprisingly able to play on, and excel, in the second 40 minutes. However, MRI scans confirmed he’d done some serious damage and will now have to watch his team-mates battle it out from the sidelines. Stanley, who made his debut as a schoolboy for St George Illawarra in 2007, is a massive loss for the Storm, however there is a silver lining with new recruit Beau Champion receiving the green light to take his place in the centres against the Gold Coast on Saturday night. Continue reading

For the next 26 weeks of the NRL Dream Team Competition, I’ll be reviewing the rounds top performers.  To make it in this list each week a player must have a season average of 45 or more and score 50 points or more in the review round.  Mid season, I’ll review the top performers in all the key positions using a different criteria for each position.

There were mixed results across the board in round 1, a few players ventured into the 40’s but only eight broke into the 50’s.  Some high priced stars were disappointing – Corey Parker, Nathan Hindmarsh and Paul Gallen and on the other side of the coin Ashley Harrison (62) and Aiden Tolman (60) were exceptional – the only players in the round to break 60 and for Ashley Harrison, the only Titan to break 40. 

Johnathan Thurston returned to Dream Team form; scoring 55 points and no doubt will make the Cowboys faithful very happy.  It was a case of what could have been though – JT loosing 16 points from mistakes, the worst from the Top Performers.  Continue reading

Storm injury cloud clears

Melbourne Storm’s three injury concerns are set to take their places for tomorrow’s NRL opening-round clash against Manly, football operation manager Frank Ponissi said yesterday. Sika Manu (knee), Chase Stanley (bruised knee) and 18th man Beau Champion (calf) were all named in the Storm team this week but only firmed to play after being put through their paces on Wednesday. Manu will be tested again this morning, but Ponissi said the powerful second-rower was looking good, with coach Craig Bellamy to make a decision after training today. ”Craig was pretty keen that he completed a fair bit of training [on Wednesday], which he did, and if he can pull up well [today] and train well then we see no reason,” Ponissi said. Tomorrow’s game will be the first time the Storm has played for points since it was busted for salary cap rorting last April. After a long pre-season, Storm skipper Cameron Smith said the team was eager to finally get back onto the field against fierce rival Manly. Continue reading

Bellamy delays team announcement

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy could wait until match eve to decide on his line-up to face Manly in their round one NRL clash on Saturday. Bellamy will name an expanded squad as he gives a host of injured players as much time as possible to prove their fitness. One certain to start the Storm’s first match for NRL competition points since last April is fullback Billy Slater, who has recovered from shoulder surgery. Pleas to play Souths recruit Beau Champion, who hasn’t managed a Storm trial due to injury, appear to have fallen on deaf ears. “He’s probably been on the edge for a little while with that head injury and now the calf, I’d probably say he’s pretty unlikely,” the coach said. Five-eighth Maurice Blair, centre Chase Stanley and forwards Sika Manu and Rory Kostjasyn are among the injured brigade. “I’d like to have the line-up settled but we’ve got a few injuries,” Bellamy said, adding they will test the players on Wednesday. Continue reading

1. Anthony Mitchell (Eels) – The Eels have struggled to find a regular dummy-half in recent years but with the emergence of 21-year-old Anthony Mitchell in late 2010 their search could soon be over. The highly-rated young hooker boasts all the skills – lightning service, a crisp passing game and speed off the mark. Likely to be part of a three-man rotation for the Eels this year, he will battle for the No.9 jersey with Matt Keating and new arrival Casey McGuire but the general consensus is that the hooking spot will become his alone in the long term. Mitchell played three games for the Eels at the back end of the 2010 season, scoring two tries, and was selected in the Indigenous All Stars side earlier this year.

2. Siuatonga Likiliki (Knights) – Boasting one of the greatest names in rugby league history – right up there with the likes of former Bronco Steele Retchless and South Sydney’s Bronco Djura – Siuatonga Likiliki made a name for himself playing for the Warriors’ premiership-winning Toyota Cup side last season when he scored 19 tries in 25 games. Now with Newcastle, the 20-year-old speedster already has tongues wagging in the Hunter where he will join Akuila Uate in a lightning-fast backline. A Junior Kiwis representative in 2010, Likiliki was named in both the 2009 and 2010 Toyota Cup Team of the Year. Continue reading

Storms youth led recovery

Melbourne Storm’s recruitment strategy for 2011 was dictated by their dire circumstances last year. A salary cap stretched to the limit by the dodgy deals of past administrators left little cash to replace a host of departing stars. So the addition of journeyman props such as Adam Woolnough and Troy Thompson filled out the list in positions where it was weak. But Storm’s Round 1 line-up won’t be just veteran-filled because coach Craig Bellamy is set to back a youth-led recovery. As many as six players aged 22 or younger could be in his 17, with 10 fledglings set to form the core of Storm’s new look outfit now and into the future. Wingers Matt Duffie, 20, and 19-year-old Justin O’Neill made try scoring their business last season taking their fast-tracked opportunities to make a serious impression. Centre Chase Stanley has already played for his country but is still only 21 and, despite an injury setback, could win the race for Greg Inglis’ centre spot. Continue reading

Bellamy breathes easier

Head Coach Craig Bellamy is breathing a little easier today after discovering none of his injured players from Saturday night’s trial match against Brisbane will be out for an extended period of time. Outside backs Beau Champion injured his calf during the warm-up and Chase Stanley suffered a corked leg before the 10-minute mark, while back-rower Sika Manu was forced off with a knee injury. With the round one fixture against Manly at AAMI Park less than a fortnight away, Bellamy said the players will need to do everything right in rehab to be a chance for the season opener. “I don’t think there’s anything there too serious, I don’t think we’re talking anything three, four or five weeks,” said Bellamy. “But they’re all going to be really touch and go for that first game. “It’s probably likely we’ll go in with a couple out, but hopefully they get better a bit quicker than the medical staff think.” Continue reading

Storm suffers injuries while Inglis looks on

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy joked about the prospect of ”kidnapping” former star Greg Inglis after losing both centres to injury in Saturday night’s 26-6 NRL trial defeat to Brisbane. In a somewhat bizarre sight, Inglis – who left the Storm to play for Brisbane only to renege on his contract with the Broncos to sign with South Sydney – was a star spectator in the 8000-strong Redcliffe crowd. After a visit to Melbourne’s dressing room, Bellamy quipped he might try and pry away the Test representative, with off-season recruit Beau Champion and fellow centre Chase Stanley both receiving injuries. ”I see Greg’s up the hallway, I might try to hijack or kidnap him actually and take him back to Melbourne,” Bellamy joked. ”Souths wouldn’t be very happy with that though.” Champion (calf) went down in the warm-up on Saturday night while Stanley (knee ligaments) was taken off in the opening minutes of the loss to the Broncos. Continue reading

We are just 12 days from the kick off to the 2011 NRL/NEX Dream Team competitions so there isn’t much time left to work out that all important campaign strategy. 

In Part 1 – I talked about the Raiders and the advantage they had for coaches in the 2011 season.  They are not the only team with an advantage when it comes to the early bye rounds.  Another team with a similar advantage is the Warriors

The Warriors have their 1st bye in round 12 with the Raiders.  Be wary though – if you stack your team with players from the Raiders and Warriors it may cost you a win in your round 12 head-to-head clash in your individual league or get you knocked out of the Eliminator Competition.   

If you are considering the Warriors, they have some good scoring options to choose from.  New players to the club, old players, players returning from injury and a couple of cheap options to make you money and trade up to those high priced stars.  The down side to the Warriors is they share their round 17 bye with the Cowboys, Sea Eagles, Storm, Tigers, and the TitansContinue reading