Who Should The Storm Keep, And Who Should They Let Go?

In 2010 the Melbourne Storm find themselves $700,000 over the 2010 salary cap and that figure is expected to climb over the next few seasons if the Storm were to keep the side they have.

David Gallop has already said he will not accept players taking mass pay cuts to keep the side together as the Canterbury Bulldogs did in 2002, which saw them win the Premiership 2 years later.

Gallop wants the Storm to lose players, and the club will have no choice but to release players to sign with other clubs.

Keeping in mind that for every player that leaves the Storm, they have to replace them with a player earning at least $55,000, it will not be an easy task getting the Storm back under the salary cap.

If I was the Storm I’d be on the phone to Super League clubs right now asking if they were interested in certain players. But what players would you offer them, how far would you look to go?

Obviously the Storm will want to keep the majority of their best players, but being so far over the salary cap, I think we will see the team lose at least one of its head line players.

With that horrible scenario facing the Storm, I’ve made a list of players in order from untouchable to on their way out of the club.

Now keep in mind, this is not rating the ability of the Melbourne Storms star players. Far from it. This list takes into account things like the position they play, the pulling power they have in Melbourne itself, their role with the club and how replaceable they are.

Cameron Smith – Keeper
He is the captain of the club and through all of this salary cap drama he is the first players everyone would have looked to. Other players could leave and yeah, it would hurt, but the team would quickly move on. If Smith left however it would feel like the Storm lost more than the best hooker and captain in the league.

Billy Slater – Keeper
A real star in Melbourne, he is without doubt the best fullback in the game and the type of excitement machine you need for the Storm to keep pulling in the punter. He gets extra credit for being more consistent than some of his team mates.

Cooper Cronk – Keeper
He has the best kicking game of any player in the NRL and would walk into the Australia side without any problems if called upon. A world class representative quality halfback who has yet to be called up for State Of Origin duty, meaning you have him all season and don’t lose him to rep games.

Greg Inglis – Available
Starts the season off slowly but finishes like a freight train. Loses out a little in that he doesn’t play one of the more vital positions on the field. The Storm have show they can produce some pretty solid centers and at one point they had Inglis play an entire year in the halves with no problems out wide. No doubt he would be a massive loss, but rumored to be on $550,000 a season, if they did let go Inglis, they would go a long way to fixing their cap problems.

Adam Blair – Available
A fantastic player who can tear open a game. I thin k he tends to be a quiet leader for the Storm, especially in their pack. Blair really sets the trend for the Storm in a lot of games, he adds a real edge to the team in the middle of the park. He would be very valuable to every other team in the competition and while he would be a big loss, he isn’t one of their true headline players so the club would take less of a hit marketing wise. I do however get the feeling this loss would hurt the club as far as player moral goes.

Brett White – Expendable
Another very good prop for the Storm, he is well know for being able to punch the shit out of Maroons players at State Of Origin level however injuries and suspension means he is not a player you can expect in the lineup for every game of the season. White could probably demand some decent money elsewhere, and I’d suggest that pretty much any forward in the Storms great lineup would be expendable before their stars were.

Ryan Hoffman – Expendable
When he is on song he is a great attacking weapon on the edges and causes havoc with his hole running off the Storms sweeping back line plays and short balls. He has had a few injury problems over the last few years though and the Storm have shown they can find forwards out of no where to fill in for him when he is out. I think he’ll be one of the players the club looks to move on.

Brett Finch – Gone
I see Finch as the very type of player the Storm were able to get that they should never have been able to. The salary cap forces teams to make do with what they have got, yet when the Storm had an issue at five eight, they managed to draft in Brett Finch. Make no mistake, Finch will not be at the club next year. I’d suggest he’ll end up in Newcasle however if a Super League club throws a decent amount of money at him, that will also be an option.

Jeff Lima – Gone
He already knew he was on his way out at seasons end, but I guess you never really knew with the way the Storm were cooking the books. One of those players that just does a very simple job for the Storm very effectively. Talk is that Canberra are chasing him heavily, but like most Storm forwards, they seem to be less effective out of the Storms system.

Aiden Tolman – Expendable
Has had a great season so far and fit right into the Melbourne Storms style of play. The thing is, the Storm take ok players, give them a very specific job and their pack as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Because of that, the club would be looking to lose a handy player like Toleman and replace him with a cheaper option who they will slot in without too many problems.

Anthony Quinn and Luke MacDougal – Expendable
The Storm like to have wingers that get through a lot of work and that are aggressive in defense. The problem for these two players is that, wingers are expendable. Quinn is the more valuable of the two players, with MacDougal only just picking up the pieces from a poor stint with Newcastle.

Gareth Widdop – Expendable
Got some press at the end of last season due to the fact he is English and was coming through the Storms amazing junior development program. He could probably command a big salary in England right now, but he loves it in Australia. With Billy Slater at the club though, he is either going to slot into the centers, find himself becoming just another winger, or he can go elsewhere and try his hand at a club such at the West Tigers who would probably give him a chance to become their first grade fullback. The bottom line is, even Jarryd Hayne wouldn’t push Billy Slater out of the fullback spot at the Storm. Hell, fullback is Greg Inglis’ best position and there isn’t even a debate there!

As you can see I think the Storm should keep as much of their core together as possible, but they would then be forced to surround those players with very inexperienced players, players from their Under 20’s team, and minimum salary players they sign from other clubs.

It will take hard work to get the Storm under the salary cap, and I’d suggest the likes of the Newcastle Knights, Brisbane Broncos, New Zealand Warriors and Cronulla Sharks are in the best position of any clubs to help relieve the Storm of some of their best players.

I would suggest that Adam Blair would be just what the Brisbane Broncos needs, especially if they can get him as well as Petero Covoniceva for next season. Ryan Hoffman would be a good buy for the Cronulla Sharks as he would add a bit more attack to their forwards as could Gareth Widdop as the Sharks are desperate for a fullback.

What ever the case the Storm will be a very different looking side next season. However, with Craig Bellemy in charge, I think they would still be a title contender, even with a lot of minimum wage players in their first grade lineup.

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