Why the Melbourne Storm are starting to look like everybody else – صحيفة الصوت

What’s most telling about how unfamiliar Melbourne are with their surroundings isn’t so much their recent losing streak, it is how they got out of it.

In the glorious years past, a Melbourne Storm team coming off one loss was a dangerous prospect because it had to make furious amends for such a lapse in its usual domination.

A Melbourne Storm team coming off two losses? That was a rare thing, and thus the desire for vengeance was doubled and the possibility of mercy was halved. They would enter the game like a predator, which meant whomever they were facing was prey.

Three losses or, God forbid, four? Well, that just didn’t happen, so it’s hard to say exactly how they’d react.

Without checking the records too closely, it’s safe to say that before the last month it hadn’t happened since the Storm were a glint in the Hunter Mariners’ eye, but if the Storm were to lose four in a row surely they would explode back to life with a great and terrible punishment for whoever they faced next.

Melbourne Storm players stand in a group during an NRL game against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Melbourne have not looked like premiership material for quite some time. (Getty: Jason McCawley)

That’s the way life has been at the Storm for almost 20 years now. 

So to see them end their four-match losing streak against the Warriors last week with a 24-12 victory that was solid without ever threatening to get spectacular was almost as surprising as the listless month that preceded it.

The abiding sense was not of triumph, but relief that the losing streak was over.

It can be like that when a team is on a bad run. It can feel like they’ll never win again.

Nearly every team in the league goes through runs like that at one time or another, but not the Melbourne Storm. Far they have travelled and much they have seen in their years at the top, so a serious run of losses is the only foreign country left for them. 

Betting on the downfall of the Melbourne dynasty has been an easy way to lose money for a long time, but to see the Storm in this position — grateful for a scrappy victory over a side whose finals aspirations vanished months ago — makes it feel like it’s finally here.

“Downfall” is a strong word for a team which is currently sitting in fourth spot, which will definitely make the finals, and which no sane team would want to face in September. But given where Melbourne is coming from and what we’ve come to expect from the Victorians, it’s a downfall all the same.

Make no mistake, if the Storm are fully loaded, they’re still one of the best teams in the competition. But that’s the difference between this Storm side and those of yesterday — they need to be fully loaded to match it with the likes of Penrith or North Queensland or even their old rivals at Cronulla.

Their best 17 is still one of the best sides in the competition, but take away Christian Welch, who has barely played this year, Ryan Papenhuyzen, who is unlucky with injury, and Xavier Coates, the first incumbent Origin player the club had signed in 15 years, and throw in one or two injuries and suspensions and we are where we are now.

Ryan Papenhuyzen runs with the ball in one hand as he is tackled
The luckless Ryan Papenhuyzen can’t stay on the field. (AAP: Joel Carrett)

All of a sudden, they’re scrambling to find loan players to fill out the back line, and Tyran Wishart — a hooker by trade — has to play fullback, and Jesse Bromwich looks another year older, and Young Tonumaipea is recalled from the wilderness on a train and trial deal midway through the season.

There are so many impressive things about Craig Bellamy’s coaching career that we could grow old together if we sat down and recited them.

One of the most notable is that classic Melbourne story where Bellamy and co pick up a player off the scrap heap, shake the dust off him and turn him into somebody who gets the job done. It happened so often and so successfully it became a cliché.


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