Gritty wins toughen Storm boys
William Botoulas, Melbourne Correspondent, NRL.com
Storm captain Cameron Smith believes a second straight one-point win will do wonders for the development of the side’s younger players.
A Cooper Cronk field goal with 26 seconds to play against Penrith on Saturday secured a second consecutive win in such fashion.
The Storm headed into this season with key players in Smith, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Ryan Hoffman all over the age of 30 – leaving many pundits to ponder a possible fall from grace for a side renowned for its sustained success.
However what the pundits may have sold Craig Bellamy’s team short on is its next generation coming through. Saturday’s team sheet against Penrith included five players under the age of 23: Ben Hampton, Jordan McLean, Mahe Fonua, Young Tonumaipea and Ken Bromwich.
It has certainly been a first-grade baptism of fire for these young men and one their captain believes they have taken in their stride.
“They’re doing a really good job, they’re hanging in there, they’re doing everything that Craig and the senior players have asked of them,” Smith said.
“When everything is going your way and you’re having really comfortable wins, the younger blokes who haven’t experienced tough matches can think, 'This is easy, it will just happen'. It’s good for the younger guys I believe getting some tough wins early.”
Bromwich was one of the young brigade to stand tall in the dying minutes of Saturday’s win over Penrith.
With Peter Wallace all but certain of slotting through a drop goal to send the game into golden-point, Bromwich came to the home side’s rescue with a sensational charge down to protect his side’s slender one-point lead.
“That’s an effort thing, that’s doing something that his team needed him to do at the time,” Smith said.
“That is what’s most pleasing about our two wins so far, guys see what they need to do for their teammates and they go do it.”
Perhaps this unrivalled team ethos in the Victorian state is why the champion No.9 has chosen to continue calling it home for a further four years.