It's the time of year when most clubs struggle because of the drain of players thanks to State of Origin.
Not so much if you are the Melbourne Storm, who have a forward pack full of Kiwi internationals and the best player I've ever seen.
With key players out because of Origin, the Dragons have hit the competition frontrunners at the worst time.
The Origin sin
NRL clubs complain at this time of year about Origin damaging the home-and-away competition — but there simply isnt any way around it.
Origin is a huge cash cow for the game and for the TV networks. Without the money from the broadcasters, the players arent making the money they're making. The game isn't producing the talent it's producing. Does anyone want to jeopardise that?
You also want your best players playing Origin because they come back to their clubs better. They pick up different things and, physically, it lifts their fitness. They come back rock-hard.
In 2002, Australia played Great Britain in a Test at the Sydney Football Stadium a week or so after Origin.
We smashed them 64-10. We were so fit that it turned out to be a smash-up.
Its supposed to rain from Thursday to Sunday in Sydney and Wollongong, so we can anticipate a wet game. Because WIN Stadium is right on the coast there will be some wind. That means the result will come down to forward power and kicking smarts.
Melbourne, you may have noticed, have a bloke called Cameron Smith. Theres the game right there.
If you also look at the Storms middle forwards, theyre all Kiwis so they haven't been dragged out of the side because of Origin: Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Brandon Smith, Jesse Bromwich. I expect them to dominate St George Illawarra.
Whenever Cameron is in their side, and they have strong forwards around them, the Storm are almost impossible to beat.
Ive said it before but it's worth saying again: he's the best player Ive seen. Hes so efficient with everything he does. Melbourne are six points clear on the competition table and while I can talk about other players in their team it all comes down to who is pulling the strings. He does it from dummy half and at halfback.
They also never, ever die. The Roosters were the better side when the two met in Adelaide last week. But Melbourne hung on and found a way to win.
Its hard to get a read on Paul McGregors side. They look really strong one minute and then they have a couple of weeks off.
They are missing a lot of forward power and their halves because Ben Hunt and Corey Norman, who are playing for Queensland, so its going to be very difficult for them. Melbourne also has a bigger, stronger bench.
How can they win, then?
Id be telling them to put the blowtorch on Smith as much as possible, as tough as tRead More – Source