Storm shed NRL grand final demons - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storm shed NRL grand final demons

By Guy Hand 12/01/2009 04:18:47 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne Storm have held a players' meeting to banish their NRL grand final debacle from memory and spur themselves to go one better in 2009.

The Storm welcomed back skipper Cameron Smith and Test fullback Billy Slater to training on Monday after they were given extended breaks following the World Cup.

It marked the first time the entire Melbourne squad had been together for a training session since their grand final battering by Manly last season.

Smith said a meeting between coach Craig Bellamy and his players on Monday would address any lingering mental scars from the grand final, then allow the team to start afresh as they attempt to make their fourth consecutive premiership decider.

"It's the first time the whole squad has been together so there'll be a short meeting which Craig will organise to speak about that and put it (the grand final loss) to bed once and for all," Smith said.

"It's similar to 2006 when we were defeated in the grand final. We could have dwelled on it and carried it through the year and not played that well.

"We spoke about it as a whole group at the start of the year to put it behind us, but at the same time leave a little bit in the back of the head that we don't want to feel that sort of pain again."

Smith and Slater admit the Storm face their biggest challenge to stay at the competition's pinnacle for a fourth successive year.

While they have won three successive minor premierships, they have just one grand final to show for it and a distinct air of unfinished business hovers for the year ahead.

The Storm have also lost several important players - most notably giant three-quarter Israel Folau and tough backrower Michael Crocker.

But Smith's recent decision to re-sign until 2012 gives the club a core of stars on multiple year deals, including Slater, halfback Cooper Cronk and five-eighth Greg Inglis.

Slater, who faced the biggest workload last year of any Storm player with 35 matches including representative games, believes how the Storm manage their more experienced players will determine their success in 2009.

"The main thing this year for us this year is our depth. We certainly don't have the depth we've had over the last three years," Slater said.

"We've still got a great side. It's about managing those players and keeping those players on the field."

The Storm's first trial match is against the New Zealand Warriors on in Hamilton, New Zealand on February 12.

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