'Last chance' as Storm players separate - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

'Last chance' as Storm players separate

By Guy Hand 01/10/2008 11:35:15 AM Comments (0)

Players waiting in the Melbourne Storm departure lounge are hoping to leave the club with first-class tickets after Sunday's NRL grand final.

Star centre Israel Folau, retiring stalwart Matt Geyer, hardman Michael Crocker and tough forwards Jeremy Smith and Antonio Kaufusi are among those leaving the club at season's end.

And there's a growing feeling among a group of players galvanised by being displaced northerners in AFL-mad Melbourne and the club's run-ins with officialdom in recent weeks, that this is a last chance to do something special before they go their separate ways.

"It's a special week for us - the last time we play together - and we want to try and make the grand final as special as possible," said Folau, who heads home to Brisbane next season to play for the Broncos on a megabucks deal.

"I'm not sure how I'm going to cope with that (leaving), but it's going to be pretty special if we win two grand finals.

"It's going to be pretty hard leaving the club. It's hard to think about, and it's hard not to think about. They've done so much for me."

Crocker heads for a lucrative deal in England after a career-defining stint in Melbourne, and wants nothing more than to make it back-to-back premierships before he leaves.

"It does motivate you. You never have the chance to play with that exact playing group again," he said.

"To have the chance to go out with a grand final win with a group of players you basically call your brothers, it'd be nice."

Most of Melbourne's players point to the added spur of winning the grand final for Geyer, the Storm's last remaining foundation player, who brings down the curtain on his decade in Melbourne win or lose against Manly on Sunday.

Geyer is aiming for his third premiership with the club, having played in the 1999 grand final win as well as last year's.

"We like to think of ourselves as a tight-knit unit, and I don't think there's one definitive thing that's brought us together," Geyer said.

"Most of us have been together for six years. Over those six years, you put little pieces of the puzzle together and you hope it comes together on the day."

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