James MacSmith, AAP
Melbourne's Ryan Hoffman concedes the Storm's start to the NRL season has been disappointing, but the representative back-rower says the club remains a premiership force.
The 2012 premiers have the third worst defence in the competition and have leaked more points than 16th placed Cronulla and 15th placed Newcastle.
Their last start loss to the struggling Warriors has left the Storm in 10th place with a 4-4 record ahead of the representative weekend break and a third of the regular season gone.
Hoffman says Melbourne's defence is a concern but injuries and a dilemma in the halves has created some early season problems.
"We haven't had a problem scoring points; it has been defensive," Hoffman said.
"We have probably had one of the most disruptive starts to the year I have experienced, in terms of injuries especially in the outside backs.
"We have had a lot of blokes go down.
"We have a new halves combination that we are trying to get hold of but they are really just excuses.
"We are scoring 20-odd points and still losing games.
"That is not Melbourne Storm-like.
"We are close to being a very good team in this competition but also close to being a very poor team."
Hoffman said he has heard it all before in regard to predictions of the demise of the Storm.
"They say it every year," he said.
"They said it in 2012 when we lost five straight; they said it last year when we had only won a few. It doesn't worry us.
"People are going to make their assumption from the outside looking in.
"We are on the inside of it, we are in the core and we know what is happening."