Melbourne once again enter the new season with high hopes of adding their first title since 2020.
By their standards in the Craig Bellamy era, three years without a premiership is essentially a title drought.
They get Ryan Papenhuyzen back on deck and have added exciting back-rower Shawn Blore to their squad.
While there’s several Supercoach players of interest to start the season, a tough early draw including a round 4 bye doesn’t help their case.
Despite the tough draw, they do have four of their first five games at home in Melbourne which helps.
Let’s take a look at the Storm’s NRL Supercoach credentials leading into round 1.
SUBSCRIBE TO SC PLAYBOOK IN 2024! Access extra premium articles during the pre-season and every round, access our subscriber only Whatsapp group with contributor feedback, late mail and other threads, our major unlimited group prize and plenty more. SIGN UP HERE!
1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Xavier Coates 3. Nick Meaney 4. Reimis Smith 5. Will Warbrick 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Christian Welch 9. Harry Grant 10. Tui Kamikamica 11. Shawn Blore 12. Eli Katoa 13. Josh King
14. Bronson Garlick 15. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 16. Trent Loiero 17. Sua Fa’alogo
Provided Ryan Papenhuyzen is cleared for take off, the backline picks itself with Nick Meaney shifting to centre in place of the departed Justin Olam.
Recruit Shawn Blore may start on the edge, however Trent Loiero is the incumbent in the spot and could retain his starting position.
The final bench spot will depend if Craig Bellamy opts for a utility back in exciting rookie Sua Fa’alogo or another forward.
The best hooker in Supercoach for a few years currently sits at 27% ownership among all teams.
Pay up for the best, or find value elsewhere?
As far as elites go, most seem to be chasing either Grant or Jeremy Marshall-King.
I’ve had a say about JMK in my Dolphins preview on site, so what about Grant?
With a tough draw to start, plenty will be hoping Grant starts slow.
Historically speaking, he probably won’t.
Last season he averaged 69.27 points per game leading into the Origin opener, and in 2022 he averaged 85.6 in the same period.
There’s also some chance he shares the hooking role and plays reduced minutes.
Looking for for the best rate on your home loan? Paddy and George from Mortgage Choice SCW can get you the best rate possible. It’s a super easy process, so flick them a message. Better yet, save $129 by mentioning SC Playbook for a FREE CONSULT!
Firstly, the tougher draw aids his chances of playing the full 80, so you could see that as somewhat beneficial.
In the final three games of last season he played reduced minutes for scores of 70 (53 mins), 59 (66 mins) and 110 (59 mins).
That’s a three round average of 79.66, which is well above his season average of 73, albeit in a very small sample size.
The point though is that if he does play a 60 minute role it may not be super detrimental, but obviously we do want him going the distance ideally speaking.
For just $111k more is he better or worse value than Marshall-King?
I’m leaning towards the proven Grant, but it’s a tight call.