The Melbourne Storm are apparently victims of their own success.
Having a club well stocked with proficient players, so proficient in fact that the Storm heads the pack in the 2017 Telstra NRL Premiership competition, has it downsides.
One of those downsides is that by supplying so many players to the State of Origin series, they lose players for the regular season games that contribute to final ladder position and who plays whom on whose ground during the finals.
Going into Saturday’s game with the Sydney Roosters, the Storm will be without Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk. They also will not have Will Chambers available due to his suffering a concussion late in the Origin II game. Tim Glasby will take his place.
Can anyone, anywhere, think of another sport where players are jeopardized by playing in a mid-season all-star game, regardless of the significance or the ramifications of that game?
Rugby players have got to have the heaviest workload of any professional athlete. Before the season gets underway, they have Auckland Nines with which to contend. Many also do international duties on the Wallabies or the All Blacks.
The Canterbury – Bankstown Bulldogs will have to soldier on without Brett Morris, who, in attempting to help the NSW Blues capture their second title in the past 12 years, picked up several injuries. The Bulldogs are uncertain as to the disposition of Josh Jackson and David Klemmer as well. A decision on their availability for a game against the New Zealand Warriors will be made at the last possible moment.
James Tedesco will be out of NRL action with an ankle injury, although the Wests Tigers could hardly think Tedesco’s presence would make much of an impact. Kevin Naiqama will shift from wing to fullback in Tedesco’s slot.
Shelter for the Storm comes from the fact that the Roosters will be without Boyd Cordner.
Significantly, Johnathan Thurston will not play his milestone 300th game.