Melbourne are living proof of the adage that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Celebrating an NRL preliminary final berth after their 16-10 win over defending champions North Queensland at AAMI Park, captain Cameron Smith said it was all the more special given his team’s horror injury run through the season.
The Storm lost superstar fullback Billy Slater (shoulder) for the season in round one while Test centre Will Chambers was out for almost three months with a fractured foot.
Along the way the Storm also had to bring in replacements for five-eighth Blake Green (calf), fullback Cameron Munster (ankle), bustling winger Marika Koroibete (ankle), prop Jordan McLean (ankle) and promising centre Curtis Scott (broken leg), who all suffered serious injuries.
“It was a battle and a challenge every week, particularly early on when we lost almost an entire starting backline,” Smith said.
“After Billy (Slater) we lost Will (Chambers) for 11 weeks which is a huge chunk of time for your No.1 centre to be out of the game and then we lost a few big men through the middle part of the year.
“That was probably what put us in this position; the way we handled that, and I’m really proud of that.”
The Storm have only one injury concern from the Cowboys match with workhorse Dale Finucane suffering an ankle injury.
The lock made 32 tackles despite going down with the injury five minutes into the second half and being unable to play out the game.
Coach Craig Bellamy hoped it wasn’t anything serious but said it was hard to tell with Finucane.
“He’s been wonderful for us this year and in that first half he was outstanding,” Bellamy said.
“Sometimes with players like Dale you’re not quite sure how bad their injury is because they’re so tough and they don’t want to come off but we think he should be right for the prelim.”