Melbourne Storm 2024 season preview

Melbourne Storm 2024 season preview

2023 recap

Third place and a preliminary final would usually be considered a good year for most clubs, but the Storm aren’t like most clubs and will be bitterly disappointed with how their 2023 season ended up. The team were never in any danger of missing out on the top eight, as they avoided any back-to-back defeats from round three onwards. As is so often the case with Melbourne, it felt like they were just tuning themselves up for finals footy, and when Ryan Papenhuyzen returned from a year out in round 26, it looked as though the Storm were all set for a big finish.

However, a 26-0 defeat to the Broncos in week one – a game in which Papenhuyzen fractured his ankle – was an ominous sign heading into week two, and only a very late try from Will Warbrick saw them squeeze past the Roosters. That set up a prelim final against the Panthers, and it was no surprise when the Storm came out second-best, although the 38-4 scoreline was something of a shock.

2023 position: 3rd

Key signings

Shawn Blore (Wests Tigers)

Key departures

Tom Eisenhuth (St George Illawarra Dragons), Jayden Nikorima (Catalan Dragons), Justin Olam (Wests Tigers), Tariq Sims (Catalan Dragons)

Players to watch

There can’t be many other players who have suffered the bad luck that Ryan Papenhuyzen has in the past couple of years when it comes to injuries, but the Storm fullback should be fit for round one and here’s hoping he can stay injury-free in 2024. If he does, it’ll go a long way towards Melbourne potentially getting back to a Grand Final, not to mention the excitement he brings to crowds when he’s running at full flight.

Will Warbrick was one of the Storm’s standouts in 2023, as the winger bagged 16 tries from 23 games in his first year of first grade. Plenty of wingers have had one good year in the NRL, so the trick for Warbrick will be backing it up again in 2024, but I’m fully expecting him to.

Young gun

Sualauvi Fa’alogo will be looking for more first grade action in 2024 after making his debut in the final round of the regular season last year. The 20-year-old scored two tries in that match, and with Ryan Papenhuyzen’s recent injury record, he’ll fancy his chances of getting a shot at the number one jersey at some point this year. Nick Meaney will be first in line after proving an able deputy last year, but Fa’alogo will be hot on his tail, and if he can’t get ahead of him, then a wing spot could just as easily open up at some point.

Our prediction – 4th

It’s hard to go against Melbourne due to their relentless nature of bagging top four finishes. One year they’ll get overtaken, but in 2024 I can see them being a main challenger again, especially if Ryan Papenhuyzen stays fit. There’s too much quality in the side for me to even contemplate them dropping out of the top eight, and with Craig Bellamy still at the helm, standards won’t be slipping in Victoria anytime soon. I can’t see them winning the whole thing, but another prelim final or a Grand Final spot could be on the cards again.

Darren Notley

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