The 2021 season marks the beginning of a new era at Melbourne Storm.
Despite being the reigning premiers, Cameron Smith’s departure after an illustrious 430-game career means the next generation of Storm stars are firmly in the spotlight.
What to expect
Despite Smith’s departure and uncertainty around master coach Craig Bellamy’s future with the organisation, expect the Storm to contend yet again.
After months on the road in a Sunshine Coast resort and being able to retain the core nucleus of the premiership-winning side for 2021 and beyond, the Storm are primed to handle any adversity that this season may bring.
Experience forwards Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane will take over as co-captains this season from the departing Smith.
Only Bromwich will lead the team out onto AAMI Park in round one for their first appearance at the venue since June, as Finucane will miss at least four rounds after tearing his calf.
The pair are well-credentialed and have been groomed for this position for some time.
“Jesse and Dale have identified some time ago as possible future captains of our club,” coach Craig Bellamy said in a statement released by the Storm when they were announced as co-skippers.
“Through our leadership program, they have progressed and developed their leadership skills, especially in the last couple of years, and have had a great captain to learn from in Cameron Smith, who was a wonderful leader of our team for so many years.”
The new-look leadership group will be rounded out by Kenny Bromwich, Cameron Munster, Felise Kafusi, and Christian Welch as the organisation moves past its greatest on-field leader
Storm fans should also expect competition for positions in the starting line up as established signings Reimis Smith (Bulldogs) and George Jennings (Eels) fight for not only the current vacant wing spot but the soon-to-be another vacant wing once Josh Addo-Carr departs for the Canterbury Bulldogs in 2022.
Players to watch
Storm fans will be intrigued as to how they fill the gaping hole left by Smith’s departure with the Hooker position to be hotly contested early on in the season.
Harry Grant seemed to be the heir apparent after his Dally M Rookie of the Year season on loan to West Tigers but has unfortunately been ruled out of the first three rounds with a knee injury he suffered in the trial game against the Newcastle Knights.
Grant’s injury means that Brandon Smith is now in the box seat to claim the starting hooker role and has three games to not only impress those at the Storm but the rest of the league as he assesses his options for 2022 and beyond.
Key match up
The start of the season will prove pivotal for the Storm as they play three of last year’s finalists including a grand final rematch in their opening rounds.
The clashes against South Sydney, Parramatta, and Penrith will prove if the Storm will continue their dominance in 2021.
Josh Addo- Carr, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich, Tom Eisenhuth, Dale Finucane, Harry Grant, Jack Howarth, Jahrome Hughes, Nicho Hynes, Dean Ieremia, Ryley Jacks, George Jennings, Cooper Johns, Felise Kafusi, Tui Kamikamica, Max King, Brenko Lee, Chris Lewis, Isaac Lumelume, Cameron Munster, Justin Olam, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Aaron Pene, Brandon Smith, Remis Smith, Darryn Schonig, Christian Welch