The race to be our half back is on

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Cameron
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The race to be our half back is on

Postby Cameron » Sat Dec 16, 2017 8:56 am

https://www.melbournestorm.com.au/news/ ... -his-no.7/

Bellamy to ponder his No.7

Author Margie McDonald Senior Reporter Timestamp Thu 14 Dec 2017, 09:40 AM

For the first time in 13 years, Craig Bellamy is having to ponder who will be his starting halfback.


It’s a position he didn’t had to fret over for even a second. Cooper Cronk had been the constant since 2006 after helping lead the Melbourne Storm to a grand final appearance against Brisbane, winning his first Dally M halfback of the year award along the way.

The water-tight partnership between Cronk and hooker Cameron Smith has been the nucleus of three minor premierships, seven grand final appearances and two Telstra Premiership titles since Bellamy took the reins in 2003.

But now Cronk has moved to the Sydney Roosters and Bellamy has two young halves – Brodie Croft and Ryley Jacks - vying for to be Cameron Munster’s scrum-base partner. Munster is a certainty to be Melbourne’s five-eighth after playing the house down in the No.6 jersey in 14 of his 21 games for 2017.

“The way Cameron Munster finished the season at No.6 he’s definitely going to keep that position, as long as he comes back (from World Cup) in decent shape and is ready to play,” Bellamy told NRL.com.

“I’d imagine Brodie will get first go at (No.7). He did a really good job when he played there for three or four games, so he gets first shot. We’ve also got Ryley Jacks there and some other younger blokes.

“Jahrome Hughes can play a few positions in the backline and another young kid (former Australian Schoolboys half) Scott Drinkwater has played a bit in the halves and at fullback. He’s a pretty exciting player as well. So between those guys we’ll find something.

“They’re not going to be Cooper Cronks as no-one else is. They’ll be their own person and bring their own strengths to the team.”

If it is Croft who gets the nod for round one in Perth against the Canterbury Bulldogs, he will have plenty of experience alongside him in the Storm spine as Smith and veteran fullback Billy Slater continue their record-breaking careers.


Smith is coming off a busy 2017 in which he reached 2000 career points, played his 350th NRL game and broke Darren Lockyer’s 355-game record in the first week of the finals. And that’s not mentioning his breakthroughs in the representative arena – his 50th Test and his 40th Origin.

Slater regained his mantle as the best fullback in the game, capping off his comeback year by starring for the Kangaroos in their march to World Cup glory.

Apart from Cronk, the Melbourne back line will remain unchanged from the grand final triumph.

Bellamy will have to plug some holes in his pack after losing Tohu Harris (Warriors), Jordan McLean (North Queensland), Slade Griffin (Newcastle), Dean Britt (South Sydney), Robbie Rochow (Wests Tigers) and Nate Myles to retirement on the back of Kevin Proctor’s departure to the Gold Coast Titans the previous year.

“We’re going to miss Tohu and Jordan, they are international players. We knew we were losing them earlier in the season so hopefully we’ve found the guys to replace them,” he said. “Joe Stimson did a really good job for us this year, as did Felise Kaufusi.

“We’re getting Ryan Hoffman back and we know he can do a good job on the edge. We’ve brought in Patrick Kaufusi who can play both positions – in the ruck and on the edge. And Sam Kasiano is coming along nicely.

“So while we’ve lost some good players, Joe showed us a lot of good qualities during the season and then on the other end of the spectrum Hoff [Hoffman] is very experienced and knows what’s going on. He’ll get a new lease of life with all these younger guys and we’ll go from there.”

Forwards like Dale Finucane, brothers Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Christian Welch are under contract beyond next season while upcoming free agent Tim Glasby will be a top signing priority in 2018.

Along with all the questions about “How are you coping without Cronk?”, Bellamy will be asked ‘’can you win back-to-back titles?’’ many times over the coming months.

Bellamy went through that following his side’s 2012 grand final win over Canterbury Bulldogs. He felt the slings and arrows that come the way of those in the spotlight.

After winning seven straight to start 2013, Melbourne won just four of the next 11 before losing to South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Newcastle Knights in an unhappy finals campaign.

The memories are hazy for Bellamy, which means he’s not actively changing anything this time around.

“2013? I can’t remember back that far, it seems a long time ago,” he said.

“In the end, last year is over now. The premiership race is over. Those memories of the win over the Cowboys will be with our guys for the rest of their lives but what happened last season isn’t going to help us this season.”

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Re: The race to be our half back is on

Postby blazza18 » Sat Dec 16, 2017 4:28 pm

There's going to be a lot of hype around Croft heading into the new season. I see this as Bellamy trying to take the pressure off him a bit.

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Re: The race to be our half back is on

Postby 1999 » Sat Dec 16, 2017 4:48 pm

I think based off his efforts last year Croft gets the nod but I won’t be totally disappointed if he is eased in, I like what I saw from Riley Jacks, we don’t need a dominant #7 as I believe Smith and Slater and to a lesser extent Munster will be the masterminds behind our attack in 2018, I think our 7 just needs to be a decent distributor and a rock in defence, which is exactly what Jacks is.

For whatever it’s worth here is my best 17 for round 1:

1. Billy Slater
2. Suliasi Vunivalu
3. Will Chambers
4. Curtis Scott
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Cameron Munster
7. Brodie Croft
8. Jesse Bromwich
9. Cameron Smith
10. Tim Glasby
11. Felise Kaufusi
12. Kenny Bromwich
13. Dale Finucane

14. Sam Kasiano
15. Nelson Asofa-Solamona
16. Ryan Hoffman
17. Brandon Smith

I for one can not wait to see Kasiano and NAS injected into a game simultaneously, good luck stopping that roll on.

I really like the depth we have this season too, guys like Hughes, Blair, Jacks, P.Kaufusi, Welch & Stimson are all first grade ready and will fill holes whenever required, I think if Croft/Jacks can play the part well in the #7 there is no reason we can’t be really competitive and be aiming for the ultimate prize once more.

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Re: The race to be our half back is on

Postby Cameron » Sat Dec 16, 2017 6:09 pm

Stimson might beat out Ryan Hoffman

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Re: The race to be our half back is on

Postby blazza18 » Sat Dec 16, 2017 7:23 pm

Saw Kenny in the back row to begin the year last season. Hard pass on that one.

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Re: The race to be our half back is on

Postby yourhero » Sat Dec 16, 2017 10:48 pm

Agreed, don’t think Kenny starting is the option. With Stimson likely to start, Hoffman back and Kaufusi #2 in Storm colours, Kenny will be lucky to even keep a bench spot.

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Re: The race to be our half back is on

Postby TC » Sun Dec 17, 2017 8:11 am

1999 wrote:I think based off his efforts last year Croft gets the nod but I won’t be totally disappointed if he is eased in, I like what I saw from Riley Jacks, we don’t need a dominant #7 as I believe Smith and Slater and to a lesser extent Munster will be the masterminds behind our attack in 2018, I think our 7 just needs to be a decent distributor and a rock in defence, which is exactly what Jacks is.

I actually thought that - by his usual very high standards - Cooper was quieter and less effective last year. Lots of people I spoke to noticed that, and it was certainly commented on by the media. That may mean it is less of a harsh transition than when Munster had to step up for Bill - although that wasn't a disaster by any means!
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Re: The race to be our half back is on

Postby Cameron » Sun Dec 17, 2017 10:06 am

Cronk had already kinda left the building when he made his decision half year to transfer to Sydney.

He wasn't bad by any standards

but he wasn't as good as past years.

Croft will be a breath of fresh air and we may actually get better.

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Re: The race to be our half back is on

Postby blazza18 » Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:05 am

I can't wait for the calls for Croft to be dropped for Jacks after a few bad weeks.

Really hoping Munster's kicking game improves more next season. He's going to have a lot more responsibility in that area next season. Him being good there would only help the team in general.

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Re: The race to be our half back is on

Postby Cameron » Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:55 am

Brodie Croft may well win the Daly M next season.

From what I have seen; he is at that level.

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Re: The race to be our half back is on

Postby Lucas » Sun Dec 17, 2017 12:29 pm

Cameron wrote:Brodie Croft may well win the Daly M next season.

From what I have seen; he is at that level.

Reel it in, sunshine.

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Re: The race to be our half back is on

Postby Mattpoet » Sun Dec 17, 2017 1:01 pm

Cameron wrote:Brodie Croft may well win the Daly M next season.

From what I have seen; he is at that level.

And I'll get the Clive Churchill then

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Re: The race to be our half back is on

Postby Cameron » Sun Dec 17, 2017 1:14 pm

Is your name Billy Slater or Cameron Smith?

Croft is well primed to impact the NRL in his first full season. Trust me.

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Re: The race to be our half back is on

Postby mattstormy » Sun Dec 17, 2017 1:50 pm

What does my head in is that Ryley Jacks is called a "youngster".

https://www.nrl.com/news/2017/12/12/Mel ... -big-time/

Ryley is 25 (26 next June) lol. Were Cam, Billy and Coops (all 25-26 throughout 2008-09-10) called "youngsters" then. Don't think so. They were big name players.

He might not have much first grade experience and might become a late bloomer, but to call him a youngster is a joke. 25 year old players are usually at their peak in their careers. I'd understand if Ryley was 18, but he's in his mid 20s lol.

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Re: The race to be our half back is on

Postby Deadpool » Sun Dec 17, 2017 1:51 pm

yourhero wrote:Agreed, don’t think Kenny starting is the option. With Stimson likely to start, Hoffman back and Kaufusi #2 in Storm colours, Kenny will be lucky to even keep a bench spot.

Geez that’s a bit harsh. I would have Kenny ahead of Hoffman. I rate Kenny, I really like him


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