Five players depart from Melbourne’s premiership-winning side but former Storm forward Adam Blair says the club’s success will continue as long as coach Craig Bellamy remains at the helm.
The Storm’s exodus includes Dane Nielsen (Warriors), Todd Lowrie (Warriors) and Sika Manu (Penrith), who all start with new clubs next season. Richie Fa’aoso also leaves for Manly after his six-game stint ended with a premiership ring, while prop Jaiman Lowe has retired.
A sixth squad member, Rory Kostjasyn, will join the Cowboys.
“It’s been happening since 2006. Every year they lose four or five players.” Blair told Big League of Melbourne’s high rate of upheaval.
“But they always seem to be able to bring someone up from the 20s or from somewhere else and they end up filling their places and become full-time first-graders.
“People go down to Melbourne for the opportunities and [Bellamy] turns them all into good footy players. Down there, it’s all about being disciplined and doing the hard work. I’m assuming they’ll do it again and keep doing it for years to come.”
Storm CEO Ron Gauci was reluctant to divulge details of the club’s contract negotiations with Bellamy after their Grand Final victory, but said he couldn’t see their premiership-winning coach wanting to leave. The three-time Grand Final winner is off contract at the end of the 2013 season.
“I can’t comment about his intentions after next year but after seeing that performance, I can’t see that he’d want to be anywhere else. I certainly hope that he doesn’t want to be anywhere else,” Gauci told Big League.
“We’ll continue as the game always does, move players in and out of the club, but the rosters he puts together, and the players he finds, develops and keeps, you can’t fault the man in his ability to pick talent.”
And in a subtle jab at the Bulldogs’ Des Hasler, the Storm boss praised the effort of Bellamy (pictured) to win a competition just two years after the salary-cap scandal.
“I know a lot is written about other coaches and their successes, but to see what Craig has done in the space of two-and-a-bit years… that is both inspirational and historical. This is a story in the making, what he’s done in the club with those players,” he said.
“History shows that people who achieve the most are the ones that are most critical of themselves. The fact that he was able to analyse his mistakes [during their five-game losing streak], admit to them and then take the steps to rectify them, that’s a mark of a true professional. That’s what defines success.”
Warriors-bound centre Dane Nielsen said the club’s success went beyond his coach’s ability to get the most out of his players, but outlined the winning culture of the club.
“It’s a credit to everyone, from the staff right through to the players. When a new bloke comes, or an old bloke from a different club comes, everyone’s really willing to chip in and help, not just the coaching staff,” Nielsen said.
“In saying that, the boys that do come know they’re coming to a great club. And you don’t just get a spot in first grade straight away. You’ve got to work your butt off and do everything right. Sometimes it takes three weeks, sometimes three months. The club’s lucky that they can instil that straight away when the new guys come.”
Knights centre Junior Sa’u and Tigers prop Junior Moors join the Storm next season, while former Dragon Lagi Setu returns to the NRL after a two-year religious sabbatical.