Tag Archive: Justin O’Neill


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

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Such is the hype surrounding new Melbourne Storm recruit Elijah Niko that he has already drawn comparisons to former NRL star Israel Folau.Every season the Storm have unearthed a future star, and little-known Niko is tipped to follow in the steps of Folau, Greg Inglis, Billy Slater – and even rugby convert Will Chambers – and make an immediate impact on the NRL. Skipper Cameron Smith said Niko had a serious chance to brush aside seasoned campaigners for a start in Melbourne’s opener against Manly. All eyes will be on the club and their new talent after they were forced to release several big names, including Inglis, in the aftermath of last year’s cap-rorting saga. Club officials preferred not to comment on Niko, who scored 21 tries in 36 games for the Warriors in Toyota Cup, including one in last year’s grand final triumph, and said they wanted to “keep him under wraps”. But Smith gave him a glowing endorsement and went as far to liken him to Folau. Continue reading

Storm forecast

Melbourne youngster Chase Stanley’s interrupted season is over after he suffered an elbow injury at the weekend. Stanley succumbed inside the opening 20 minutes of the AAMI Park clash with South Sydney, along with front-rower Aiden Tolman who suffered a rib cartilage injury, and coach Craig Bellamy has confirmed Stanley won’t play again in 2010 after having a slow start because of a shoulder injury. Fortunately for Bellamy though he has a ready-made replacement to step straight back in after overcoming ankle and thigh injuries of his own. “Certainly with Chase getting injured that gives us a chance to put Justin back in which is great, the more time he gets the better he’ll be,” Bellamy added of the 19-year-old who has excited Storm fans with his try-scoring feats in his handful of games so far. Bellamy is no better than hopeful that Tolman will get to play a farewell game in Round 26 against the Knights but he does welcome back Adam Blair from a rest and Jeff Lima following the birth of his first child leading up to the Rabbitohs game. Another rising star, forward Jesse Bromwich, has been named at 18th man as Bellamy keeps an eye on a couple of players carrying injuries, and the coach has been impressed by the under-20s graduate. “Yeah he’s been really good Jesse,” Bellamy said