Sisa Waqa, the club’s leading try scorer, is set to spend 3-4 weeks on the sidelines after undergoing a minor arthroscope in his left ankle.
The Fijian suffered the injury, thought to be a re-occurrence of an old one, in Friday night’s 16-10 loss to the Warriors. Waqa has been the Storm’s most potent attacking threat this season, with his seven tries from eight games ranking him among the competition’s best.
In a further blow centre Justin O’Neill has also suffered a small fracture in his left ankle. O’Neill was carried off the field in the hands of Storm trainers just before half-time in the loss to the Warriors and post-match coach Craig Bellamy said the initial prognosis did not look good.
His fears have been confirmed, with the club to know the full extent of the injury after consulting with a surgeon on Monday - but O’Neill is expected to miss at least a month. It is a cruel blow for the 23-year-old, who had just returned to the side following a knee injury sustained in the Auckland Nines in February.
The one-two punch of bad news will not be welcomed but this Melbourne team hardly has time to sit around and console themselves.
Currently outside the top eight with a 4-3 record and the dreaded Origin period to come, Storm fans won't get much comfort from their side’s upcoming fixtures.
Following this week’s international break, Melbourne will host Manly, travel to South Sydney and North Queensland, before returning to host the Roosters.
For a side that has built themselves into a perennial finals contender, the task that lies ahead for the remainder of the season is perhaps the biggest hill the team has had to climb in several years.
The Storm turns to its Big Three to steer them into the light but it remains to be seen whether they, and their steely coach, can turn it around and lead the purple army to September football again.