It might have taken a few NRL seasons but the message from Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy has finally hit home with his Storm players.
Trailing only Cronulla at the top of the ladder, Melbourne’s surge has been built on their defence – only conceding 137 points – 41 less than the next best team, fifth-placed Parramatta.
Storm utility and Kiwi international Tohu Harris said the consistency in defence had been key to their form, with six successive wins to their name.
“Craig really drove it home over the pre-season as it’s something we’ve been unhappy with in the past few seasons and something we really wanted to fix, so we’re glad to be able to put it out on the field,” Harris said.
“That was the biggest message from the last couple of years, that consistency in defence.”
Ahead of their Saturday night clash at Allianz Stadium with the Sydney Roosters, Harris said New Zealand Test prop Jesse Bromwich had been leading the charge.
Bromwich starred in their win over Penrith, scoring the opening try, and was only pipped in game-high run metres by Harris.
“He’s our leader in the forward pack and all the boys look to him,” Harris said.
“He’s always getting us going forward and making huge plays for us and, when he does that, the boys get on the back of it and it’s a real boost for us.”
Harris said that big-bodied Nelson Asofa-Solomona, who swatted Panthers players away like flies to set up their last try, was also making a difference.
“Nelson’s come into his own in the last month or two and, when he comes on, he’s really aggressive for us and makes an impact,” he said.
While they sit at contrasting ends of the ladder, Harris said the Roosters’ pack, led by Kiwi enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, would be a challenge for Melbourne, particularly after their win over the Wests Tigers.
“He and (Dylan) Napa really stood up for them through the middle and they’re going to be a huge challenge for us.
“We know they’re going to come out nice and aggressive and take us on through the middle so we have to match that and try do the same.”