While a number of spots in their backline remain up for grabs, Melbourne NRL captain Cameron Smith says the stability of their forward pack will allow the Storm to hit the ground running this season.
Melbourne have lost just one member of their grand final pack with second-rower Kevin Proctor shifting to the Gold Coast.
Led by Kiwi Test captain Jesse Bromwich, the Storm forwards were integral in their charge to the title decider.
“They turned up every game we played last year,” Smith said.
“As the saying goes, forwards win matches and the backs determine by how much and we won a fair few games last year so that’s a positive for our team, it’s pretty much the same pack.”
The Australian skipper said Melbourne’s forwards had never previously being mentioned in conversations about which NRL team had the best pack but were finally getting the respect they deserved.
“The Storm pack have never been rated by anyone – not that we care that much – but last year people sat up and took notice of what our guys were doing,” Smith said.
Kenny Bromwich, the younger brother of Jesse, is the leading contender to take over the right-edge forward role covered by Proctor, although coach Craig Bellamy may be reluctant to take him away from his valuable interchange duties in the front row.
Felise Kaufusi and Joe Stimson are also in the running while former Storm under 20s player Dean Britt, the son of former Wests and Canterbury 200-game forward Darren Britt, is an outside chance to make his NRL debut.
Bromwich has been named at lock for their final NRL trial on Saturday against the Bulldogs in Hobart, with Kaufusi partnering Tohu Harris in the second row.