Finals focus: Stimson hopes history doesn't repeat
Joe Stimson is taking nothing for granted when it comes to featuring in Melbourne's 2018 finals campaign after missing out on last year's successful charge to premiership glory.
Stimson made his NRL debut early in the season last year and played 15 games but his last appearance was in round 24 as the Storm went all the way to grand final glory by beating North Queensland.
He said making sure history does not repeat on a personal level was driving him to be at his best leading into their blockbuster clash against South Sydney on Friday.
The 22-year-old forward has been more consistent and enjoyed more game time this year in his 16 appearances.
"I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't," Stimson said about his ambitions to play finals footy.
"Missing out on the finals last year was a bit disappointing, but I'm just happy to be playing first-grade and getting a few starts here and there.
"I've been in and out of the starting team and I've really enjoyed my time when I started, and being off the bench as well. I'm always happy to do what the team needs me to do. If that's off the bench, then that's fair enough. But if I get a chance to start, I'm really rapt as well."
Stimson believes his all-round improvement is a reason for his success this year.
"I've always tried to get a bit stronger, and a bit faster. I think my defence has been my most improved aspect of my game this year."
The Temora product is a natural successor to take over Ryan Hoffman's No.12 jersey for the Storm next season and says his senior team mate is full of advice.
"Hoffy's been awesome to me. Just all these little aspects like line running and that sort of stuff. He's probably one of the best line runners that the Storm has had. I'd be silly not pick his brains. He's a very intelligent person and a really good footy player as well."
Melbourne have blown teams off the park in the early exchanges recently, and they've shown to be a consistent attacking team in the opening quarter this year.
Stimson says it's a deliberate plan to get on top of sides early.
"We always want to start hard," he said.
"When it does work out, it makes the game flow a little bit better. But we work hard to start like that, it's one of our goals. It is exciting when it does happen.
"If we can (execute our game plan) and be consistent in our attack, then that helps in completing in our last 20."