New faces pose same threat from Storm - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

New faces pose same threat from Storm

By Melissa Woods 03/03/2010 01:06:54 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy is not a man to reminisce or rest on his laurels.

He allowed himself to watch one replay of Melbourne's 2009 grand final triumph over Parramatta and then it was back to the future.

And, as usual at the Storm, it's looking bright.

They've started 2010 on a high, winning their second World Club Challenge crown with a gutsy victory 18-10 over Leeds, avenging their defeat two years ago.

Bellamy believes his squad have the talent to defend their NRL title despite another major off-season turnover of players.

Vitally, the big guns - Greg Inglis, Billy Slater, Cam Smith and Cooper Cronk - remain.

"It's the biggest change over we've had in players in the squad so it's a new year, new team," Bellamy said.

"Nearly half of the squad's been turned over, it's a big number.

"But I think when we've got everyone fit we certainly can (retain the title)."

The most high profile of the five recruits is backrower Todd Lowrie, who came from the Eels.

Lowrie is likely to step straight into the shoes of work-horse Dallas Johnson, who was a surprise departure to Perpignan-based Super League club Les Catalans.

They are big shoes to fill.

"You don't really replace players like Dallas Johnson, you can put someone else in his spot and hopefully they'll bring something to the side," Bellamy said.

"Todd Lowrie will get first go out there.

"He's a different player to Dallas, I'm not saying he's better or worse but Dallas is pretty unique in what he brought to us, not only on the field but off the field as well."

Many of the new faces in the squad come from their champion under-20 side but Bellamy said he only expected about two to make their NRL debut.

"Those guys did a tremendous job last year but it's still a big step up from under 20s to the NRL.

"There's certainly some guys showing some promise.

"We won't know what these young blokes can do until they get a chance, it's a big step up, some can do it straight away."

He named winger Matt Duffie, English-born fullback Gareth Widdop, halfback Luke Kelly, lock Billy Rogers and prop Jesse Bromwich as players to watch.

Brisbane was the last side to successfully defend its ARL/NRL premiership, back in 1992-93, while the last team to make five successive grand finals, a feat Melbourne will be aiming for this year, was Souths from 1967-71.

"It'd be nice if it happened but if that's our focus now, it won't work for us," Bellamy said.

"We're only worried about first game, the rest of season will look after itself."

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