The Storm under Craig Bellamy continue to be a model of consistency. Since Bellamy joined the Storm in 2003 the Storm have won 226 games, averaging 16 wins a season, which is 35 more wins than the next best side. Their Pythagorean expectation number of wins is 240.69 which is 47 more than the next best side. They have been the class of the NRL for a long, long time.
Wins since 2003
*The Titans only joined the NRL in 2007.
Having the best club spine in the history of the game sure helps but Bellamy is a meticulous planner who works down to the smallest details. One of the things I like to do every year is look at negative plays (missed tackles, errors and penalties conceded) because it does an interesting job of highlighting a side’s discipline and some of the influence of coaching and game planning on a side. It should be no surprise that Bellamy’s teams are near the top every year and avoiding negative plays.
Bellamy probably doesn’t mind the penalty count numbers being so high because it’s the expected result of the dark art of wrestling in the tackle but what really should stand out is how good a defensive side the Storm are and how good they are at minimising errors while they are on attack. The Storm defend well and then hold onto the ball, naturally that’s a pretty successful approach. The Storm had a team missed tackle rate of 5.9% last season compared to the second best side, the Raiders, who had a 6.8% missed tackle rate (the NRL worst Knights had a 9.8% missed tackle rate).
The biggest test of Craig Bellamy’s credentials will be how he moves on without Cam Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater. In some ways it is a lot like the New England Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick who would put the icing on his career coaching genius if he can do it without quarterback Tom Brady. Smith and Cronk look capable of maintaining a high level play for as long as they are motivated but Slater seems almost done, the Storm have a ready replacement in Cameron Munster though. Moving beyond those three legends the Storm have Tohu Harris and Jesse Bromwich, two of the best Storm forwards in Bellamy’s tenure and ready to take the leadership reins of the side. There’s also a pretty solid group of youngsters including Nelson Asofa-Solomona (if they sign him long term), Brodie Croft and Brandon Smith. So life beyond the big three, whenever that might happen, still looks rosy for Bellamy and the Storm.
The biggest question mark for this side is how Billy Slater slots back into the side. Reports have budding superstar Cameron Munster moving to fie eighth although I would have liked to see him stay at fullback and Slater move to five eighth, that might have been an unrealistic defensive workload for Slater’s shoulders though. Josh Addo Carr should slot onto a wing to replace Marika Koribete while Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Kenny Bromwich will battle to start in the second row, a battle that Bromwich (unfortunately) will probably win.
2016 Positional Minute Splits
The Storm got the least amount of minutes from their bench of any side in the NRL. That’ll happen when you have an 80 minute hooker, a big minute front rower and three highly capable back rowers. Young hooker Brandon Smith has made noises about forcing his way on to the bench so could this spell the end of CS9 for 80? I doubt it.
This looks like a really good side with very tidy depth at every position. The Storm will go deep again this season.
Average Fantasy Points Allowed Per Position
Because the Storm don’t miss many tackles there aren’t many tackle breaks going round against them. The success of fantasy halfbacks seems to be the result of lots of kick metres because the Storm were ranked 13th in kick metres against them in 2016 and 15th in 2015.
Key Fantasy Changes
The return of Billy Slater probably bumps Cam Munster out of fullback, and I suspect out of being a fantasy gun. Replacing Kevin Proctor also presents an opportunity that fantasy coaches should hope goes to Nelson Asofa-Solomona.