Up on the walls of the Melbourne Storm board room are photographs of nine players. That’s not too many when you think of how many guys have been at this club since our first season in 1998.
But those nine are special because of what they have meant to the club; by what they did for the club. And Dallas Johnson is one of them.
He’s a favourite son. But we never had the chance to honour him for the role he played and the great service he gave us. Usually when players leave, we have a tribute for them at our annual presentation night.
Dallas left us at the end of 2009, just before Christmas as that was when he made his decision to take up an offer and play for the Catalans Dragons in France. We feel the Storm fans should have a chance to both thank and farewell Dallas properly.
He played 28 games in Super League before returning to his roots in North Queensland and playing 65 games for the Cowboys before a knee injury forced his retirement in 2013. When he was living in Townsville it was hard for us to organise a function for him.
But Dallas is now living back in Melbourne so we think it’s an appropriate time to do it. Great players like Robbie Kearns, Stephen Kearney and Ryan Hoffman, only last year, have had that farewell with fans at their final home game.
Dallas played in four of our grand finals (2006, 07, 08, 09) as part of his 157 games with Storm, alongside four straight years of Origin. He was one of those tough breed of Queensland forwards like Mick Crocker and Nate Myles. He wasn’t an overly big guy but everything he had he put into his game. He set some real standards here defensively for Storm and was one of that talented crop that came through our junior development system with Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, Cooper Cronk and Hoffman.
It’s been really hard to convince Dallas to be a part of this as he’s one of the most humble guys you’ll ever meet – hates a fuss.
But the impact Dallas had on our club deserves to be recognised. And in a way it’s also appropriate Hoffy will be around as we play the Warriors on Easter Monday.
It’s his 250th NRL game, which I congratulate him on but also feel it’s a real shame it’s not with us. He played 245 games with Storm before and after his year with Super League giants Wigan in 2011.
Hoffy’s photo is in our boardroom as well. He will also be one of our favourites – he won’t be for 80 minutes on Monday – but he’s a huge part of this club still.
Hoffy was resilient, hard working, a leader, Origin player, Test player. So in a way I wish he wasn’t playing his 250th against us, and I’m also pleased it is against us so we get to share in the occasion with him. I know that sounds odd but for myself and the players he’s a great mate and we want to celebrate with him.
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden must be enjoying the quality of forward he has in Hoffy with his work ethic, knowledge and experience. Hoffy is one hell of a player and one hell of a bloke.
Finally, this might sound like sour grapes after our one-point loss to the Cowboys last round but I’m still firmly against a field goal-kicking-contest deciding games in extra time.
Since the system was introduced in 2003, Storm has had four wins and four losses in golden point. So we’ve been on both sides of the result.
I personally am a fan of a drawn game. I believe that’s a fair result if after 80 minutes teams can’t be split. But it seems to me that extra time now is so predictable. It’s just a matter of controlling the ball until you get into a kicking position for a field goal.
If we stick with extra time, then I think it’s time to rule a try decides the winner. If a four-pointer doesn’t come in extra time, then it’s a draw.
We should take the field goal out of extra time. I’d be taking the penalty goal out as well.
I’m not sure if that’s feasible as you’re playing 80 minutes one way, then 10 minutes another.
What we’re aiming for, which I’m sure was the original intent of golden point, is an entertaining end to the game. Players are tired; gaps can open up; it’s a chance to build some real excitement with some enterprising ball movement that’s not happening at the moment.
In what always shapes as a close contest, Storm will host the Warriors on Monday 6 April, kicking-off at the family friendly time of 5pm at AAMI Park.
With a strong crowd expected, the Club encourages fans to purchase their ticket prior to game day and get to AAMI Park early in order avoid the qeues at the box office and gates. View the Round 5 Game Day information for all public transport and parking details.
Dallas Johnson will be acknowledged to the Melbourne Storm faithful at AAMI Park pre-game.