Dale Finucane has shaken off his frustration at being a stop-start contributor to the Storm's 2018 campaign as he returns to the starting line-up against the Raiders on Saturday.
The 26-year-old lock has only played nine Telstra Premiership games in 2018, having fractured his thumb against the Sharks in round four and then again playing the Cowboys in round 12.
It was the little things like gripping a ball and pulling jerseys that delayed his return.
"It was hard, obviously what seems like a minor injury," Finucane said of his layoff.
"But it's surprising how much you use your hands with your grip and all that sort of stuff. The fact it is quite a minor injury, and I was out for such a long time, was frustrating.
"I thought I would have been back about three weeks ago, but it took a little longer second time around. It got really stronger in the game and has been going well."
He had to settle for watching games on the TV as an anxious spectator and even got a chance to experience the coaching box with Storm coach Craig Bellamy.
"(There was) a bit of saliva on the forearms," Finucane joked about watching a game beside Bellamy.
"He's got a blow-up in him, obviously. Adam O'Brien, our attacking coach, is a bit more of a calming influence."
Slater says that 2018 Storm can still improve
Finucane also missed out a potential Holden State of Origin berth for NSW but was just as aggrieved about not contributing to the Storm.
"It was frustrating I wasn't able to play, more so for the team," he said.
"I would have loved to have played in that series, but obviously this is the toughest period of the year for us in terms of Origin. But the guys we had there and depth we had covered it really well."
Plenty has been written about the Storm's young backline but their young forward group has added defensive starch through the middle in recent weeks.
Finucane anointed Joe Stimson as a future leader who has shown great versatility in 2018 by playing off the bench, on the edge and up front.
Queensland Origin star Felise Kaufusi is also one of Melbourne's forward leaders but says there's plenty others who can step up after Ryan Hoffman's retirement at the end of season's end.
"There's a couple – we've got Dale Finucane, Jesse Bromwich, and Kenny Bromwich there as well," Kaufusi said.
"Even the young guys coming through like Nelson [Asofa-Solomona]. I think they can all play a part in it."