Melbourne Storm Pledge Finals Rebound Amid Teammate Criticism

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Unphased by the scathing criticism from former teammate Brandon Smith who labelled Melbourne Storm’s initial finals performance as “putrid,” the members of the Storm have rallied. Instead of bristling at the remarks, they have collectively acknowledged their responsibility for the lacklustre Brisbane showdown and pledged an impressive rebound as they square off with Smith’s Roosters in an all-important final this Friday night.

Cameron Munster, the Storm’s strategic heart, was initially oblivious to the post-match critique aired by his premiership comrade after the Roosters confirmed their second-round meet-up in Melbourne. He lightly shrugged off the comments, yet the sentiment hasn’t gone unnoticed.

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Brought up to speed on Smith’s interpretation of the disappointing 26-0 defeat, Munster retorted, “He tends to speak without aforethought, rather like myself. Come Friday, we’ll see who has the final word.”

Harry Grant, the Storm’s hooker scheduled to contest directly with Smith on Friday, conceded that the Roosters’ critic has aptly summarised Melbourne’s failings: “There’s no denying it was a subpar performance and given his larger-than-life personality, you wouldn’t want to dissuade him from voicing his unfiltered opinions,” Grant admitted.

He continued, “There’s some irony in him coming back to play a final against Melbourne Storm. We have a profound respect for his abilities.”

In the wake of their tepid defeat, Munster, along with halfback Jahrome Hughes, Grant and fullback Nick Meaney – all key components of the Storm’s backbone – convened to reflect and assume personal accountability.

Coach Bellamy lamented that his team resembled a “band of strangers,” struggling to present any offensive tactics, and Munster attested to the poor communication among the strategists.

Such honest debates among the players ensured a revival ahead of the make-or-break semi-final, with the Storm dreading a third post-season defeat in four matches since their 2020 grand final victory.

Driven by the desire to revive their faltering finals campaign, Munster advocated for an increased ball possession for himself and Hughes.

“We’ve scrutinised areas where we are lagging, and realised we need to bolster our involvement,” avowed Munster.

Wanting to emulate the likes of Nicho Hynes and Nathan Cleary, who tend to dominate ball possession, Munster added, “Hughesy and I are probably handling about half as much. That’s one area we can bolster.”

The Storm is primed for some transformations in the wake of Ryan Papenhuyzen’s severe ankle injury and winger Xavier Coates’ ankle damage in the face-off with the Broncos, which resulted in him needing to wear a moon boot.

While Coates’ condition remains uncertain, the door is ajar for seasoned centres Justin Olam and Reimis Smith to make a compelling case for their reinstatement into the team.