The Best Club In The Game

If you wanted to see why the Melbourne Storm are the best Rugby League club in the world, you just had to be watching the television on Saturday afternoon.

It started with their Under 20’s team.

The Melbourne Storm is the team to play for if you are a youngster looking to make a name for yourself and have your game developed to its fullest potential. If you think of players that the Storm have developed and then lost, those players that have left have never been as effective as they were with the Storm.

The clubs reputation for developing talent has seen the club attracting good youngsters who head down to Victoria because they know, over the long term, they will be better players for being through the Storms player development system.

In watching the Storm Under 20’s team, they play they same style of game as their first grade team. This is not uncommon in Rugby League, it allows youngsters to step up from Under 20’s and into a first grade system they are already familiar with.

However with the Storm, they are a carbon copy of their first grade team. It is incredible to watch some plays in the Under 20’s that are so effective, and then see those same plays in the NRL when their first grade team takes the field.

A lot of people were writing off the Storm this season, and I couldn’t understand why.

I don’t care who you put around them, a core of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater that is coached by Craig Bellemy is always going to play well.

The youngsters the Storm brought through last year are improving game and game and in Gareth Widdop, the Storm has a five-eight who is not only showing good touch and instinct with his passing game, but who has the running game to break through the line and finish off a scoring play.

The Storms forward pack is the same as it has always been. Workmanlike. The Storm don’t ask for anything fancy from their forwards, they are asked to do the basics, just do them right. Anything special will come from their trio of stars.

Their outside backs are all athletic, great under the high ball and always ready to back up their star players.

This whole system revolves around their big three, and you couldn’t ask for three better players to steer the ship.

Cameron Smith is by far and away the best hooker in the game. He seems to always take the right option, he gets through a heap of work and he really steers this team in the right direction.

The thing that always amazes me with Smith is his awareness of the greater position the team is in rather than just the immediate area around him. If the Storm have an overlap on the far side of the field, Smith senses it. Its almost as though he has a wider view of the field. With the way he guides them around the park, you can almost forgive the opposition when he runs from dummy half and scores an easy try, as he did against the Titans.

Cooper Cronk I believe is the best halfback in the game by a long, long way. His kicking game is pinpoint accurate and he is a strong runner of the ball. His time and instinct with his passing game is nothing short of brilliant.

There was a play against the Titans where Cronk took the ball on the short blindside, looked to hold the ball up on the inside, dummied to the outside, and broke through the line. It led to a try. It was just classic halfback play, he pried the opposition apart single handedly and most importantly, he does it on a consistent basis.

Then you have Billy Slater, what an athletes. The thing about Slater people underestimate is the way he reads the game. You could see that against the Titans when he saw an opportunity out wide with the Titans playing plazy around the ruck. He demanded the ball and a very short blind side, blew past the defenders and found himself one-on-one with Preston Campbell. He ended up scoring a break away try.

It is no wonder Storm fans keep turning up in good numbers. With a stadium that is finally worthy of hosting a side as good as the Storm, Melbourne fans can now watch their team in relative comfort. They have a great, loyal core of supporters but in recent seasons they have also been able to draw in a few causal sports fans as well.

I think with the next television deal, and hopefully with better TV coverage in Melbourne (Compared to the farce they have now) we’ll see the Storm kick on.

The mos promising feature about yesterdays Storm success? The fact that the club is now starting to produce junior players from Melbourne.

Best club in the game.

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