The Storm’s Strategic Signings: A Focus on Strengthening the Backbone

With the NRL Finals finished and the contract deadline passed, the NRL’s silly season is officially open. We will bring sanity to the gossip and conjecture with the relaunch of Smart Signings, our analysis of where clubs are weak, what they need, and where they might find it. Expect stats, profiles, and insights, with available and realistic options. Don’t expect rumors.

Despite Melbourne making another Preliminary Final and finishing in the top four again, there are issues that can’t be ignored. The Storm were not lucky in 2023 as they managed to pull through with victories, but things were not right. They often faced struggles in matches and had little they could do to change it. They had to fight for 16 wins, generally the benchmark for a top four place, but they weren’t performing as well as expected.

Melbourne finished third, but were fourth for tries conceded and sixth for tries scored. They were good, but not that good. They were second best for metres conceded but just ninth for metres made; fifth for line breaks conceded but a whopping 13th for line breaks made. The Storm heavily relied on Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes, and Harry Grant to make points happen.

They won low-scoring games and struggled to beat elite teams or faced drastic challenges. They struggled against the Panthers and the Broncos in 2023. The tightness in their playing style has become both a strength and a weakness. Melbourne needs to make improvements in attacking metres and line breaks. The forwards need to be upgraded, especially in the back row. There are options out there for Melbourne to improve by finding reliable types for their squad.

Smart Signings recommends Jack de Belin as an option for the Storm to upgrade their squad or Nat Butcher who is yet to extend at the Roosters and can cover both lock and second row. Another potential option could be Angus Crichton, who is currently a player of the Roosters, and they have been attempting to get someone to take that contract for a while. These players might be the solution that Melbourne needs to strengthen their squad for the next season.