Storm coach Craig Bellamy says he is proud of Melbourne’s efforts this NRL season, despite their preliminary final loss to North Queensland.
The Cowboys dominated the Storm across the park on Saturday night to move into this week’s grand final against Brisbane.
But it was a match many thought Melbourne would never play in.
They were written off at the start of the season and then again when Billy Slater suffered a season-ending shoulder injury during the State of Origin series.
Bellamy was upset at his side’s exit but was prepared to look on the bright side.
“It’s a hard question to answer now because I’m inclined to say it wasn’t successful,” he said.
“But we were written off at the start of the year. Billy got hurt and we were written off.
“I’m pretty proud of the players, to be quite honest, to get to where we have got it to. It is the youngest squad since I have been here.
“A couple of weeks and we will probably look back and say we have done a good job this year. But now it is really disappointing.”
Melbourne finished the regular season fourth and upset Sydney Roosters in the first week of the finals to make it to within one game of the grand final.
The Storm will have a different look about them in 2016. Utility Ryan Hinchliffe, who has played seven season in Melbourne, is headed to Super League outfit Huddersfield Giants. Centre Kurt Mann has been signed by St George Illawarra, winger Matt Duffie will play Super Rugby with the Auckland Blues and Mahe Fonua, who didn’t play against North Queensland, will join Hull FC.
The Storm have made no big names signings, acquiring only Canberra back-rower Mark Nicholls and Gold Coast prop Matt White.
But Bellamy was positive about the future of rugby league in Melbourne, pointing to the improvement of a number of young players at the club this season.
“The progress of especially a guy like Cameron Munster and young Nelson (Asofa-Solomona), they have been really good for us.
“Tim Glasby has had a really consistent season for us and Marika (Koroibete) has come out of nowhere for us.
“But there was a grand final at the end of this. As I have said to some of the younger players: you want to watch next week and look at the opportunity we have lost here.”