A big pre-season, connection to the fans and ability to adapt in COVID-19 times has held the Melbourne Storm in good stead for season 2021.
With less than a handful of games to go until the end of the home and away season, the Storm sit clear on top of the NRL ladder, breaking the premiership record for the greatest points differential in a regular season.
But it hasn’t just happened overnight, with the 2020 runners-up pushing hard over the summer to go one step further this year.
“A favourite saying of Bellyache’s (Craig Bellamy) is that you can’t have a good season without first having a good pre-season and it rings true this year,” Football Operations Coordinator and Melbourne Storm great Ryan Hoffman told steeden.com.au.
“The boys prepared themselves brilliantly and it has shown with their results. The resilience the boys have shown has been tremendous and this is due to the confidence they have in themselves and in their team mates to get the job done no matter the circumstance.”
Bellamy’s gruelling pre-season continues to help the club strive forward, with the Storm having never lost a Round 1 encounter under the guidance of one of the NRL’s best coaches.
With the continued COVID-19 outbreaks across Australia, the Storm have been forced to play away from Melbourne for extended periods of time.
But the club knows how important it is to pay homage to those in Victoria.
“The boys are obviously very active on social media and work with the club with engaging with fans. They have done members phone calls to people back home and have the big V on the jersey, which has certainly shown people we are always thinking of them,” Hoffman added.
Hoffman declared the 17 consecutive wins was a clear highlight for the year, praising their ability to adapt in what has been another tough season on the road.
“The boys ability to not let anything they can’t control disrupt their preparation or ability to do their job (has been key),” he said.
Steeden has been there every step of the way with the Storm in 2021, with one clear product helping the club out in the middle.
“Steeden produces the best of its kind rugby league ball,” Hoffman said.
“I know the coaches do love the heavy training ball. It is an integral part of our base skill training.”
While Victoria might be a heavy AFL state, Rugby League continues to take big steps ahead at the community level, with the Storm understanding how important it is to grow the game from the grassroots level.
“Obviously COVID has hampered a lot of things we can do face to face, but earlier in the year the boys attended all the Victorian Junior Rugby League clubs,” Hoffman said.
“Rugby League is going from strength to strength in Victoria and it’s great to see.”