Smith not worried about Storm's future - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Smith not worried about Storm's future

By Steve Jancetic and David Beniuk 06/10/2008 06:58:59 PM Comments (0)

Cameron Smith has heard it all before - the talk about the crumble of the Melbourne rugby league empire.

"It's been brought up in the last couple of years as well," said the Storm skipper, who missed Sunday's grand final loss to Manly due to his much-publicised grapple tackle suspension.

"After we lost the grand final in 2006 to Brisbane people were writing us off, saying you can't do it, you lost Scott Hill, you lost David Kidwell and whoever else, and we got to the (2007) grand final, won it.

"And then last year they said you can't win it again because Ben Cross left, Garrett Crossman, Matt King, Clint Newton and we're here again.

"I think it just shows the quality of our club and the drive that all of our players and our coaches have."

By the time the Storm return for pre-season training early next year, 11 men who played in at least one of Melbourne's three successive grand finals will no longer be with the club.

The latest to join the list of departees are Israel Folau, Michael Crocker, Jeremy Smith and prop Antonio Kaufusi - all four moving on to other clubs - while veteran utility Matt Geyer has hung up his boots.

The man who filled in for Smith at hooker on Sunday, Russell Aitken, also remains unsigned.

It's left coach Craig Bellamy with huge holes to fill in the backline and in the backrow, a task he knows will not be easy.

"We are losing some players, and we are losing some good quality players ... guys like Folau, Crocker, Smith, Kaufusi - you're losing quality players there," Bellamy said.

One thing the Storm do have going for them though is that the spine of the side which has been so successful over the last three remains.

With Billy Slater at fullback, Greg Inglis and Cooper Cronk in the halves and Cameron Smith at hooker, the Storm will continue to be handful no matter who else joins the side.

One centre spot is likely to be taken by Will Chambers, whose season was ruined by a knee injury against South Sydney in round 11.

Challenges for the other backline berth are set to come from the likes of Joseph Tomane and Sam Joe, the Toyota Cup stars who were both given a taste of the top grade this year.

In the forwards Aiden Tolman is likely to push for a regular start as are youngsters Sinbad Kali and Kevin Proctor.

"Every year we seem to lose quality players and this year's no different," prop Brett White said.

"We've got some great young players coming through.

"I don't think it's about rushing players, I think it's about the systems that we've got in Melbourne the coaching staff's ability to plan for the future."

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