Storm hope size reaps NRL title reward

A plan hatched in 2014 will come to fruition in Sunday’s NRL grand final against North Queensland, with Melbourne sending out their biggest-ever forward pack.

After getting monstered through the middle by Canterbury in the elimination final that year the Storm decided they needed to add some size to compete.

They bought Dale Finucane from the Bulldogs and fast-tracked Jordan McLean and promising teenage giant Nelson Asofa-Solomona.

“It’s been well-documented that Cameron (Smith) spoke to Craig (Bellamy) after that final about recruiting bigger guys in our forward pack to aid him and create some room and get some real good go-forward,” Melbourne assistant coach and former Test prop Jason Ryles said.

“That’s a real strength of ours and they’ve done a really good job this year.

“You’ve just got to look along the line, they’re quite a big and physical team and we play to that and use those guys as much as we can.”

As well as exciting, try-scoring backrower Felise Kaufusi, the big addition for the Storm in this year’s decider is Asofa-Solomona, who missed the 2016 grand final loss after dislocating his elbow at training the week before the preliminary final.

Melbourne are counting on his two metre, 115kg frame doing some damage against the Cowboys.

Ryles said Asofa-Solomona had been taken under the wing of former All Black Andrew Blowers, who works at the Storm as a welfare co-ordinator, who had helped him sort out his diet, sleep habits and training.

“Nelson is improving every week,” Ryles said of the 21-year-old Kiwi.

“He’s getting all his off-field stuff sorted and he’s now a lot more consistent and I think that’s showing on the field in how he’s playing.

“Talent-wise isn’t Nelson’s problem, it’s him getting a good routine and making sure he’s consistent with his performance every week.”

Despite the Storm starting pack’s 22kg size advantage over their Cowboys counterparts, Ryles said they couldn’t afford to be complacent.

“We’re just focusing on what we need to do to play well, what they’re doing doesn’t come into our calculations,” Ryles said.

Post grand-final Melbourne will farewell McLean to the Cowboys and Tohu Harris to the Warriors.

But they won’t lose much size with 128kg Bulldogs prop Sam Kasiano joining the club.

HOW MELBOURNE”S FORWARDS COMPARE TO NORTH QUEENSLAND’S FORWARD

Storm, height and weight

Jesse Bromwich, 194cm, 114kg

Jordan McLean, 196cm, 115kg

Felise Kaufusi, 189cm, 109kg

Tohu Harris, 195cm, 112kg

Dale Finucane, 188cm, 106kg

Cameron Smith, 185kg, 92kg

Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 200cm, 115kg

Kenny Bromwich, 183cm, 103kg

Tim Glasby, 188cm, 105kg

Cowboys, height and weight

Scott Bolton, 187cm, 112kg

Shaun Fensom, 182cm, 101kg

Gavin Cooper, 197cm, 108kg

Ethan Lowe, 194cm, 107kg

Jason Taumalolo, 191cm, 113kg

Jake Granville, 172cm, 85kg

Coen Hess, 190cm, 110kg

John Asiata, 183cm, 108kg

Corey Jensen, 188cm, 104kg.

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