NRL 2021: Melbourne Storm’s stunning Origin record after camp failure


Craig Bellamy brought Storm players and staff together for a mid-season camp six years ago.

He set one of the rugby league’s most impressive records.

The reigning prime ministers and eternal title contenders are undefeated in their last 10 games of the Origin period, and 19-3 in the past four years when they’ve been without a galaxy of stars; from Smith and Slater to Munster and Addo-Carr.

But it was only after this Geelong 2015 meeting for Melbourne “could not have been worse if we had tried”.

Unhappy campers: “Everything talks, no action”

Melbourne will have five players on the Townsville pitch next Wednesday night, in line with the dominance they have established over Origin squads, particularly Queensland, over the past few years.

Only Penrith will have more players in attendance for the series opener.

Craig Bellamy takes a shower after Melbourne’s victory in the 2017 NRL Grand Final.
© Grant Trouville / NRL Photos

The 2020 Grand Finalists are still leading all other contenders by Flemington’s length of the straight this year and are the discount favorites against the Titans and Tigers this week.

Over the past four seasons, Melbourne has turned winning without its biggest names into an art form.

Especially this year.

Emphatic wins, like a 34-10 crush against Canberra, came from 28-year-old Chris Lewis, who played the first five-eighth game of his life, with a top-pick five-star spine from Ryan Papenhuyzen, Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes and Harry Grant all absent.

In the three years leading up to this 2015 camp, it was Melbourne’s only Achilles heel.

Over the course of the four seasons, half of Storm’s 28 losses came when Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk, Ryan Hoffman and Will Chambers either disappeared in the Origin camp or played within days of being surrounded in the most brutal arena. Game.

So in 2015, Bellamy – the mastermind of the infamous training camps that send Storm rookies to hell and then back in a purple jersey – called for a quieter affair.

“We took the non-Origin players along the coast to Geelong for a camp, we had a concerted meeting on how we were going to attack Origin,” longtime football manager Frank Ponissi told NRL. com.

“The moment you think you’re doing the right thing. That’s the way to do it, really plan it and map it.

“I remember some great days, great workouts and productive plans, it just didn’t work out at all.

“It couldn’t have been worse if we had tried – we had a horrible Origin period, I don’t know if we won a game during this year’s rehearsal period.”

Melbourne scored a victory over Penrith that year.

Storm vs. Titans – Round 13

But Bellamy was as ruthless as he gets after a 24-2 loss to the Roosters, calling a Storm team without Smith, Slater and Cronk “weak physically and mentally” and “obviously everything talks about, no action” just days after that escapade. in Geelong.

So now the Storm continues.

Kiwis and Cam

The 2020 campaign affected by COVID-19 meant there was no mid-season origin to fear.

But between 2016 and 2019, the Storm contributed more players to Origin than the previous four seasons, bidding farewell first to Cronk and then to Slater, while easily producing the best rehearsal record in the NRL.

Parramatta, Penrith and Canberra come next with 14 wins out of 22 contests impacted by Origin during that span, well behind Melbourne’s 19.

A Kiwi cavalcade, the retirement of representative Cameron Smith, and a change in Origin narrative at the Melbourne headquarters proved the key.

At Smith, Bellamy had been closest to a captain coach since the days when captains used to bid on the paddock.

To Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Jahrome Hughes, Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Brandon Smith, among others, Melbourne has a nucleus of developing leaders who hold the fort throughout the year, but especially when the stars of Queensland and the NSW are absent.

Munster authorized for Origin but doubts hover over the main Maroons

Jesse Bromwich’s brother used to specifically target mid-season games to go beyond his already impressive production on the pitch.

“I often tried to take on this challenge,” said Bromwich.

“I think these days I’ve been playing throughout the Origin period so during that period I think it’s more important that I’m leading off the pitch than on the pitch.

“Obviously our training standards could go down, but I think it’s important that we keep them as high as possible.

“I’m looking to lead on and off the training ground now, I guess, more than on the pitch. If you train well and prepare well, you should play well. training and meetings is really important with the young people that we have to come in. “

Coach your players, play with your coach

Identifying potential newbies and representative players is a must for any club to balance their books, to ensure that contract bonuses don’t push them into dangerous salary cap territory.

Aside from determining the likelihood of a Trent Loiero, Aaron Booth, or Tyson Smoothy seeing playtime, Ponissi doesn’t recall this year’s Origin series being mentioned in the Storm setup until week last.

“In previous years, we analyzed it too much and talked about it too much,” he said.

“I think it’s actually after Origin where you really have to do most of your planning.

“You have to take care of your Origin boys when they come back, if you don’t give them rest physically and mentally that’s what can bite your back later in the final.

Native round marked by the frenzy of the four points

“During Origin now, it’s just ‘the next man gets up and go’.”

Like when Lewis was named in the No.6 jumper against Canberra two weeks ago.

The graduate schoolteacher played rugby league for 20 years, but never played in the semi-finals.

Bromwich dubbed him the “biggest left fielder [selection] I saw for a while, “while Cooper Johns thought Bellamy was pulling a ruse from the team sheet until a calf injury to Hughes meant Johns ended up in halftime by his side .

Lewis spent the next week telling his teammates that an injured Munster wouldn’t get No.6 or his million-dollar contract back.

But the implied instructions to do the opposite of Bellamy that night – “not to play like Cameron Munster, but Chris Lewis to play five-eighth” – were repeated for some time and, in turn, proved to be decisive in the recent rise of someone like Nicho Hynes.

“It’s part of Craig’s secret to his training,” Ponissi said.

“Every player has realistic expectations of what they can do and what they need.

“It’s not about putting unnecessary expectations or pressure on them, worrying about letting someone down because they’ve been asked to do too much.

“Whether it’s an Origin period or an injury crisis, you just donate the jerseys and if you wear one you do your best, do your job and that’s what you expect. “

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