Recap of last season
2022 was a disappointing year for the storm. The salary cap did its job and led to a significant reduction in depth players, and also the loss of stars like Josh Addo-Carr and Nicho Hynes.
Additionally, through the season they also lost players such as Ryan Papenhuyzen and Christian Welch to injury.
Despite these setbacks, they still spent most of the season in the fight for a top 4 position. They eventually lost this fight and ended their season missing the top four by only two points.
Melbourne lost their only finals match, falling 28-20 against the Raiders in the first week.
How can they improve
Anything other than improvement will be considered a bad season for Melbourne. The team is filled with Origin and other representative stars and has one of the all-time greatest NRL coaches in Craig Bellamy.
Purely by remaining injury free on field, this Storm side should be anticipating an improvement over last year.
With many key places committing to the Storm for the foreseeable future, Bellamy has many of the players he needs to form the new-look version of a true NRL powerhouse.
In: Eliesa Katoa (Warriors), Tariq Sims (Dragons), Joe Chan (Catalans), Aaron Pene (Warriors).
Out: Felise Kaufusi (Dolphins), Brandon Smith (Roosters), Jesse Bromwich (Dolphins), Kenny Bromwich (Dolphins), David Nofoaluma (Wests Tigers - return from loan), Cooper Johns (Sea Eagles).
The Storm lineup remains star-studded, even with several key losses. Ryan Papenhuyzen has committed his future to the club, and could likely be the face of Melbourne Storm Football for years to come.
While he will miss some early games due to injury, he will be hoping to return to an already winning Storm side, and help to take their game to the next level.
Years of success in a salary cap league does come with drawbacks. A decade of winning has meant that many good-depth players have made the decision to sign with other clubs rather than hoping for opportunities in Melbourne.
This means that, unlike previous seasons, Bellamy may struggle to replace the losses of players such as Brandon Smith and Felise Kaufusi. While this may not be game over for the Storm, we may be starting to see the salary cap's effects catching back up to them.
Jack Howarth is yet to make his NRL debut. However, he may be exactly what the Melbourne Storm needs. After losing Josh Addo-Carr last season, and with David Nofoaluma returning from his loan spell, Melbourne will be looking for a speedy player out wide.
Howarth has represented Queensland at both under-18 and under-19 levels, and could potentially be a long-term contender for the senior Origin side.
While we may be seeing the start of the end of the Melbourne Storm dynasty, the side still has a lot of talent and a lot to play for.
The team will want to prove that last year was just a down year, and should be coming out ready to go in round one.
Led by one of the best coaches in the game, the Storm will still be a very tough side to beat in 2023.
Ladder Prediction: 2nd
Before you move on, why not give our Facebook page a like here. Or give our Twitter account a follow to keep up with our work here.