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Opinion

Melbourne Storm greatest NRL side

17 Jul 21, 1:04PM 0 Comments

Written by Joshua Dean

Photo by Getty Images

One of the most successful teams in the NRL era, the Melbourne Storm have made the grand final nine times since the inception on the NRL in 1998, winning the premiership on five occasions (two stripped).

They have had some once in a generation players, making some selections in this side very easy but it’s also a very tough side to pick in other areas. For a club like the Storm, it was always gonna be difficult selecting this team as they’ve been so dominant throughout their time in the NRL but let’s have a crack.

1. Billy Slater (2003-2018) 319 appearances

Slater revolutionised how rugby league fullbacks play the game and is one of the greatest players to ever don the number one jersey. Throughout his career, he won two premierships, a Dally M Medal, the Golden Boot award and Dally M Fullback of the Year on three occasions. He sits second for the NRL’s most ever tries scored having scored a whopping 190 tries and more than held his own in a team of many greats.

2. Israel Folau (2007-2008) 52 appearances

The club has had some very prolific wingers in its history. Whether it be Bai, Geyer or Vunivalu, they all scored tries at a rapid rate while playing in Melbourne. However, Israel Folau stands out slightly above the rest. He burst onto the scene in 2007, winning Dally M Rookie of the Year after scoring 21 tries during the season. Whilst Izzy only played two seasons at the club, he was brilliant when he was at the Storm.

Israel Folau playing for Melbourne Storm

3. Will Chambers (2007-09, 2012-19) 215 appearances

A man who was there for much of the club’s era of dominance, Will Chambers was a quiet achiever who played a huge role in winning. When many clubs struggled in the 2010’s to defend big centres and wingers, Will Chambers was one of the best edge defenders in the competition. Many games the Storm held teams to zero points and Chambers played a major part in that.

4. Greg Inglis (2005-2010) 117 appearances

Playing at five-eighth and centre during his time at Melbourne, Inglis had so much speed for someone so big and strong that it made him almost impossible to stop. One of his greatest assets was his balance, the positions he could put himself in was incredible. He was a true freak of nature who played some breathtaking football while at the Storm.

5. Josh Addo-Carr (2017-present) 120 appearances

The Fox is a try-scoring machine, pure and simple. He has scored an absurd 98 NRL tries in only 120 games. His blistering pace obviously is a major strength of his game, however, his positional play is on the money time and time again. When Addo-Carr is in the mood of scoring tries, opposition teams have already lost. He will be a big loss for the club when he leaves for the Bulldogs in 2022.

6. Cameron Munster (2014-present) 143 appearances

The five-eighth selection was a tough one as the Storm has had some great five-eighths over the years, however, Cameron Munster is just too talented to pass up. He has already won Dally M Five Eighth of the Year twice and has two premiership rings. With a great running game and exceptional playmaking abilities, Munster looks set to lead the club to another successful decade.

Cameron Munster playing for the Melbourne Storm

7. Cooper Cronk (2004-2017) 323 appearances

One of the most successful halfbacks of the NRL era, Cooper Cronk was an elite playmaker and game manager for the Storm. Many still view him as underrated though, due to him always being behind the shadows of Slater and Smith. He had a pinpoint kicking game and was a player that just affected winning in so many ways. Cronk won the Dally M Medal twice and Dally M Halfback of the Year five times.

8. Jesse Bromwich (2010-present) 263 appearances

Many people only talk about the Storm’s spine, but Jesse Bromwich has been a dominant force in the front row for just over a decade now. He has done the hard yards for the club and in the period around 2015-2017 he was arguably the best prop in the NRL. He received the Dally M Prop of the Year award in 2016 and through his runs through the middle, he aided what the “big three” could do in a big way.

9. Cameron Smith (2002-2020) 410 appearances

A future immortal, Cameron Smith finally hung up his boots last season after an incredible career. His accolades speak for themselves, he won Dally M Hooker of the Year eight times, the Dally M Medal twice and was the first and only player to play over 400 NRL matches. The longevity he had over almost two decades was incredible. He is one of the smartest players the game has ever seen and he became almost a third half on the field for the Storm.

10. Glenn Lazarus (1998-1999) 44 appearances

Glenn Lazarus is a winner. It’s as simple as that. He is the only player to have won grand finals with three separate clubs and they were all each club’s first premiership. This is no coincidence, Lazarus put his all into every single game he played and was a true competitor. For any club, every fan remembers the team’s first premiership and Lazarus was the captain of that side in 1999 who many say over-achieved, which is a credit to his leadership. He may have only played 44 games for the club, but those matches had a major impact on the Melbourne Storm.

Glenn Lazarus playing for the Melbourne Storm

11. Stephen Kearney (1999-2004) 139 appearances

A player who was part of the club’s first premiership-winning side, Stephen Kearney is another example of successful Kiwi players at the club. He was outstanding on the edge for the Storm, where he mixed skill with toughness. Many know him as a coach, however, his playing career was highly underrated. Even then, he showed leadership qualities, captaining the Storm in 2003 and 2004 in Craig Bellamy’s first two seasons at the club. He became the first Kiwi player to play 250 Australia first grade matches in 2004 and was a great role model for New Zealand players.

12. Ryan Hoffman (2003-10, 2012-14, 18) 265 appearances

A champion footballer, Ryan Hoffman started his career as a mobile back-rower and ended it as a club legend. Of course, he won two titles which were stripped, as well as one in 2012, where he was invaluable for the club throughout his tenure. He scored 10+ tries in three different seasons, as well as having some seasons where his job was to be the leader of the forward pack, doing the gritty work that no one else wanted to do.

13. Dallas Johnson (2003-2009) 157 appearances

Dallas Johnson was the Storm’s enforcer and engine room in the mid 2000’s. Many remember him for his low tacking style, which was highly effective but led to a few head injuries. He was a tackling machine that broke many records at the time. Johnson never really got the credit he warranted, but he did win Dally M Lock of the Year in 2007, which was highly deserved.

14. Matt Geyer (1998–08) 262 appearances

A club foundation player with great versatility, Matt Geyer broke many Melbourne Storm records during his playing days. He kicked the winning conversion in the 1999 grand final against St George-Illawarra which saw Melbourne win their first grand final in only their second season and when he left the club, he was their all-time top try scorer. A Storm legend through and through.

Matt Geyer playing for Melbourne Storm

15. Robbie Kearns (1998-2005) 169 appearances

A Melbourne foundation player, Robbie Kearns was a strong leader for the club in their early years. He won Club Player of the Year in 1998 and 2003, which is quite a feat for a front-rower. Kearns was captain of the team for three seasons and led the club through some tough times before Craig Bellamy. A great leader for the young players coming through at the time, Kearns was a pivotal part of the Storm’s earlier years.

16. Adam Blair (2006-2011) 121 appearances

Blair made his NRL debut for the Storm in 2006 and won the clubs rookie of the year award. The same year also saw him make his International Rugby league debut for the Kiwis. Coming off the bench for the club, he provided some real mongrel to the Storm’s forward pack. Leaving the club in 2011 was a move Blair may regret, however, he still achieved so much in his career at Melbourne.

17. Nelson Asofa-Solomona (2015-present) 137 appearances

The Melbourne Storm signed Nelson Asofa-Solamona when he was only 15 years old playing college rugby union in Wellington and he has not disappointed. Now one of the best props in the NRL, his height makes him so hard to tackle, especially when defending so close from the try line. At just 25 years old, he has already played a vital role in two premierships victories.

Coach – Craig Bellamy (2003-present) 488 matches

This selection was easy. Craig Bellamy is one of the greatest coaches of all time, let alone at the Melbourne Storm. Coaching the Storm for nearly two decades now, the club has made the grand final on nine occasions and won five premierships (two stripped). He changed everything when he stepped into the role, from top to bottom and is known as being a tough task maker. His sprays are legendary, but that is part of the reason why the Melbourne Storm club is so successful.

Honourable Mentions: Marcus Bai, Tawera Nikau, Matt King, Dale Finucane, Ryan Hinchcliffe and Brett Kimmorley

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