Longevity key to Storm stars' dominance of Players' Poll
Storm recruitment director Frank Ponissi says it isn't surprising to see Billy Slater and Cameron Smith being voted the best in their positions by their peers given their longevity at the top level.
The veteran duo joined Melbourne's Josh Addo-Carr and Will Chambers, along with coach Craig Bellamy, in being acknowledged in NRL's Players' Poll, with Addo-Carr, Chambers and Bellemy deemed the NRL's best winger, centre and coach respectively.
The Storm also ranked second behind Brisbane when players were asked which club they would make a switch to if they were to leave their own club.
Ponissi reserved special praise for Smith, saying his consistency at the top made him rank as one of the players ever.
"Cam has been in the top of his game from 2003. That's a long time," Ponissi said.
"When you go at the history of game, let's say the Immortals, if you pick how many years they were at their best, [it's] probably a maximum of 10 years.
"Cam has been doing it for 15 – that's quite extraordinary.
"He's remained the best hooker in the game, and his durability over such a long time is phenomenal."
Ponissi said the 35-year-old Slater had defied the trend of players losing their speed late in their careers./
"Because speed is such a vital part of Billy's game, he's just flipped that on his head. His speed in the first half of Origin game two was as quick as I've ever seen him," he said.
"There's no reason why he couldn't play next year, the way he is playing."
Addo-Carr has also capped off his remarkable rise to become one of the competition's best wingers after starring for NSW.
"He had a fantastic year last year," Ponissi said.
"But as we know in history, there's a second year syndrome – players that haven't come back (as well). But he didn't rest on his laurels. He worked even harder in pre-season this year, which speaks volumes."
Storm coach Bellamy polled almost 50% of votes as the NRL's top coach, well clear of Ivan Cleary (17%) and Wayne Bennett (8%). Ponissi said Bellamy's dominance was a reflection of his ability to evolve throughout a long career in the NRL.
"There's some outstanding coaches in our game at the moment. Craig has been doing it consistently for 16 years with longevity and the consistent success. We've had different things happen along the journey but he's reinvented himself."
Veteran prop Jesse Bromwich also spoke about his club coach's influence and how he looks after his players.
"I think Craig and his assistants do a great job, getting the boys up every week," Bromwich said.
"It can get quite hard mentally, getting up every week for big games, people always coming at you. The club do a good job at resting the boys when they need a rest, and all the younger boys are bringing energy everyday. Everyone talks about the grind of the NRL, but they seem to be doing a good job at the moment."
The NRL.com Players' Poll is independent of the National Rugby League. The survey was undertaken by 117 NRL players across all 16 clubs. The survey questions and results have not been designed or endorsed by the NRL or the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA).