NRL.com columnist Andrew Voss looks back on the Storm's perfect night, the Cowboys' last stand, Cronk's future, grand final entertainment and more.
How great is the Storm of 2017?
I stated many times in commentary on Fox League this season that I had enjoyed watching the Storm play more than any of their previous great years.
They have been such a standout, and I am so happy for them they were able to fulfil their destiny.
In this very column after Round 23 (August 16) I wrote the following:
"With three rounds to go, the Storm deserve to be premiers.
I’m declaring them. I don’t think they’ll lose again this season. Good luck Craig Bellamy. Beat the Voss mock!"
Well beat it they did. Ten straight wins to complete the season. The best attack. The best defence.
A champion team.
I declare them the best side I have had the privilege of watching and calling in the NRL era.
What were your three best grand final moments?
Narrowing things down to just three is tough but for me Josh Addo-Carr’s second try was a great moment. Smith to Cronk to Smith to Slater… and so it went. The big three, for one last time.
At No.2, I have Cooper Cronk’s tackle on Lachlan Coote in a kick-chase during the second half. Wow… the axe!
And at No.3, the image of Shaun Fensom giving a thumbs up to the fans as he was taken from the field after his unfortunate and devastating injury. Who wasn’t applauding that?
What more could the Cowboys have done?
The Cowboys couldn’t have started any better. They completed every set and were asking questions of the Melbourne defence, the runaway Addo-Carr try was obviously a blow and highlighted how important it is to take your opportunities in big matches.
At 12-nil, you had reason to worry but it wasn’t fatal. The Billy Slater try though before half-time was the big blow. Teams don’t come back from 18-nil down against Melbourne.
In the second half, the Cowboys were gallant and with 20 minutes remaining it was still only 18-6, but the Storm still had plenty in reserve.
I stated going into the match that for the Cowboys to be a real chance, Melbourne would have to play well below their best. There was never any sign of that.
I doubt there would have been a side in the NRL that could have beaten them on the night.
What should Cooper Cronk do?
That is entirely up to Cooper.
But here are my thoughts… and allow me to be a little selfish.
I think he should keep playing. His form has been outstanding. Through his long and successful career it would appear his body has held up well.
I have never subscribed to the theory that an athlete should 'go out on top'.
No one is saying Cameron Smith should call it quits now after Sunday night’s triumph, so why should that sentiment extend to Cooper? You are a long time retired. Cooper is so gifted with his talents and can have such a positive influence on a football team.
Personally I think he should ‘backflip’ and play for the Storm again, but I understand he has personal reasons for his move.
Should Cronk play on at a rival club he will be a tremendous asset, and fans like me will continue to enjoy watching him in action.
Through history players have come up against the clubs they made their name. In my early days following the sport, Bob Fulton left Manly. Bob McCarthy left South Sydney. That had been champions for their teams.
Cooper… don’t go!
How about a final word on Macklemore?
Well played, mate.
He added to a great night.
We’ve come a long way from balloons, a marching band and parachutists as pre-match entertainment.
And there is more rugby league to come …
All eyes this weekend will be on Old Trafford when Castleford tackle Leeds in the Super League Grand Final. British fans soaked up a thrilling semi final double last weekend with Castleford winning in golden point against St Helens, and Leeds beating Hull FC by two points.
In the case of St Helens defeat, I’m racking my memory trying to think of the last time a team scored two tries more than their opponents (Saints scored 5 tries to 3), and still lost.
The drama of finals football.
It’s been a super year folks. Thanks for all the feedback on the column. I’ll be back during the World Cup to share my thoughts.