Melbourne Storm insist nothing will not stop their continuing NRL dominance

As cashed up rivals strike, offering more money than the Melbourne powerhouse has to play with, the Storm has a message for those predicting the club’s decline.

Cameron Munster will be expected to carry a heavy leadership load in 2022.
Cameron Munster will be expected to carry a heavy leadership load in 2022.

The Storm have defiantly declared they will not be brought down by cashed-up NRL rivals as the Dolphins close in on a third Melbourne player.

Storm backrower Kenny Bromwich is on the verge of linking with brother Jesse and Melbourne teammate Felise Kaufusi for the Dolphins’ NRL launch in 2023.

The Storm have already lost Dale Finucane (Sharks), Josh Addo-Carr (Bulldogs) and Nicho Hynes (Sharks) from their 2021 minor premiership team while Dally M hooker of the year Brandon Smith will leave Melbourne for the Roosters at season’s end.

Kenny Bromwich is close to joining his brother Jesse at the Dolphins. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
Kenny Bromwich is close to joining his brother Jesse at the Dolphins. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

The ultra-successful Storm have fallen victim to the NRL’s salary cap constraints, with rival clubs offering more money than Melbourne can afford to keep their top players.

But the Storm insist the poaching raids will not stop their NRL dominance in the coming years.

“It is what it is, you can’t worry too much about it,” football chief Frank Ponissi said.

“Nothing will ever compare to 2010 (salary cap scandal). We went through that so everything else pales in significance.

“We’ve been dealing with change for a number of years. We’ve lost at least three of our best 17 players every year. This is no different.

“It’s been magnified by the fact players are being signed so much earlier for the following season which makes it look like you’re losing more.

Former Melbourne Storm star Josh Addo-Carr’s departure leaves a big hole.
Former Melbourne Storm star Josh Addo-Carr’s departure leaves a big hole.

“Our game has got to the stage where people forget about the upcoming year and think about the next year.

“We haven’t kicked a ball in 2022 and people are talking about 2023.”

The Storm have grown accustomed to their best players being targeted by rival clubs.

They have lost the likes of Cooper Cronk (Roosters), Kevin Proctor (Titans), Tohu Harris (Warriors), Jordan McLean (Cowboys), Tino Fa’asuamaleaui (Titans) and Suliasi Vunivalu (Queensland Reds) in recent years and managed to continue being the NRL’s most consistent team.

“After 2020 we lost Cameron Smith (retired), Tino and Suli, they were three big players along with a lot of others,” Ponissi said.

“We turned around and were minor premiers last year with a pretty outstanding season.

“It’s nothing new for us. It’s the system and we’ve got to deal with it.

“For years we kept hearing people say we weren’t going to replace Smith, (Billy) Slater and Cronk. They don’t get any bigger in the game than them and we lost them between 2017 and 2020.

“We’re not downplaying it but we’ve just got to get on with it and produce the next player.”

Melbourne Storm players training at Geelong Grammar. Picture: Alison Wynd
Melbourne Storm players training at Geelong Grammar. Picture: Alison Wynd

The Storm couldn’t match the money being offered by the Dolphins for Kaufusi and the Bromwich brothers in the latter stages of their careers.

The entry of the Dolphins into the competition from next year has injected another $9 million into the player market and put incumbent clubs under pressure to retain players.

“The difference this year is there’s an extra team with a complete salary cap to fill. It’s changed the market,” Ponissi said.

“You allow for a year of that and then after this year everyone goes back to normal again. There will be no-one with $9 million to spend.

“We will create opportunities. Every year one or two players really step up to the plate. That’s how we’ve always been.

“If you add it up over a number of years it’s a lot of players, but on average it’s around three or four players each year.

“We’ve lost three quality players and people but we’re confident there will be three players that step up and add their own strengths.”

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