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Here is all you need to know about the Melbourne Storm ahead of the 2022 Telstra Premiership season.

The Lowdown

Overview

Any team boasting Ryan Papenhuyzen, Jahrome Hughes, Cameron Munster, Brandon Smith and Harry Grant is bound to be a premiership contender. With the supercoach Craig Bellamy at the helm and a roster packed with stars, the Storm will play finals for a 12th consecutive year and push hard for another title.

Possible best 17

1. Ryan Papenhuyzen, 2. Xavier Coates, 3. Reimis Smith, 4. Justin Olam, 5. George Jennings, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Jahrome Hughes, 8. Jesse Bromwich, 9. Harry Grant, 10. Christian Welch, 11. Kenny Bromwich, 12. Felise Kaufusi, 13. Brandon Smith, 14. Nick Meaney, 15. Chris Lewis, 16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 17. Tom Eisenhuth.

Munster is poised for a big season
Munster is poised for a big season ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

Key changes

The departure of premiership players Dale Finucane, Josh Add-Carr and NIcho Hynes will provide a stern test of their depth but former Bronco Xavier Coates looks a readymade replacement for The Foxx while Brandon Smith could slot in at lock for Finucane if that’s how Craig Bellamy wants to roll. The Storm have proven time and again during the past decade that their culture and work ethic is unbreakable and personnel changes – no matter how significant – don’t rattle their cage.

Health check

Pretty much a clean bill of health at this stage heading into 2022 but they will be without Cameron Munster, Brandon Smith and Chris Lewis for the opening match of the season against Wests Tigers in Sydney due to the suspensions arising from their end of season party antics. Prop Tui Kamikamica is currently stood down while he defends an assault charge. Back-rower Trent Loiero suffered a syndesmosis injury in the final round but he is training freely and will be good to go.

Brandon Smith could slot into lock to replace Dale Finucane
Brandon Smith could slot into lock to replace Dale Finucane ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

Biggest question mark

Will the fallout from Brandon Smith’s ‘I can’t wait to be a Rooster’ podcast derail the Storm? Yes he’s apologised for his misguided comments about the club’s drinking culture and for waxing lyrical about the club he’ll call home from 2023, but Craig Bellamy was less than impressed and it’ll take some serious commitment on and off the field for Smith to win back the coach’s trust. There’s also the ongoing debate over how best to use Smith and Harry Grant. Both are superstars. One will start and the other will come off the bench. Grant’s Origin duties with Queensland will mean he is unavailable in round 17 against Cronulla so Smith will start that night. And if Bellamy chose to rest Grant after Origin I or Origin II he could miss games against the Roosters (R14) and Manly (R16) but again ‘The Cheese’ would be raring to go. It’s a ‘headache’ most coaches would be only too happy to have.

Opening month

The Storm start with an away game to the Tigers in western Sydney before three straight AAMI Park games serve as long-overdue reward for hometown fans who haven't seen their side in the flesh in almost a year. The Rabbitohs, Eels and Bulldogs make the trip south to round out the opening month.

Toughest stretch

The back end of the Origin period will test out Craig Bellamy's men. Likely to be heavily called upon once again, they take on Manly at 4Pines Park in round 16, the Sharks at Pointsbet minus their Origin contingent in round 17, host the Raiders in round 18 with plenty of players either rested or backing up, return to Sydney to face Souths in round 19 then in round 20 travel to face the Warriors in either New Zealand or Queensland.

Justin Olam is one of the best centres in the game
Justin Olam is one of the best centres in the game ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

Make it count

The Storm are legendary for starting strong and they'll want to do it again in 2022. The six-game period from round four to nine sees them take on five sides that missed the finals with four of six games in Melbourne. The Knights at McDonald Jones in round eight is the toughest ask in that whole period, on paper, and the Storm could well start favourites in all six.

NRL Fantasy: Storm 2022 prices

Jahrome Hughes: HLF, $734,000
Cameron Munster: HLF, $716,000
Harry Grant: HOK, $697,000
Brandon Smith: HOK/MID, $678,000
Ryan Papenhuyzen: WFB, $636,000
Christian Welch: MID, $588,000
Felise Kaufusi: EDG, $555,000
Kenneath Bromwich: EDG, $532,000
Tui Kamikamica: MID, $530,000
Reimis Smith: WFB/CTR, $470,000
Justin Olam: CTR, $462,000
George Jennings: WFB, $443,000
Jesse Bromwich: MID, $430,000
Nick Meaney: WFB, $424,000
Tom Eisenhuth: EDG, $418,000
Trent Loiero: EDG, $400,000
Dean Ieremia: WFB, $336,000
Xavier Coates: WFB, $330,000
Chris Lewis: EDG, $322,000
Josh King: MID, $319,000
Jayden Nikorima: HOK, $300,000
Cooper Johns: HLF, $270,000
Tepai Moeroa: MID, $240,000
Jordan Grant: MID, $240,000
Jack Howarth: EDG, $220,000
Jonah Pezet: HLF, $220,000
William Warbrick: WFB, $220,000
Tyran Wishart: HLF, $220,000