Bench play leading Storm's charge
Despite finishing as the minor premiers and earning themselves a spot in Saturday night's preliminary final, it's been a bit of a tough year for the Melbourne Storm.
During the first two months of the season the Storm were decimated by injuries to their outside backs, and had to use eight different backline combinations in the opening nine rounds.
The middle of the season saw most of their big men take their turn at visiting the treatment room, as their forward depth took a beating.
Only one area of the field was consistent for the Storm all season, and it's a major reason they've gotten to where they are in 2016.
The output from Melbourne's bench has been fantastic all year and especially over the past six weeks as players like Tim Glasby, Kenny Bromwich, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Jordan McLean and Christian Welch have all played valuable minutes.
Glasby has been at the forefront of the bench's on-field success in recent matches, and he credits the mentality he and his teammates take into each game for their strong performances.
"I think our bench has been great all year as well and not just the last few weeks. We've got some blokes in our starting pack that can play good minutes like Jesse [Bromwich] and Dale [Finucane], so as the bench boys we just get on when we get a chance and you just add as much impact as you can for however long you're on the field," Glasby told NRL.com.
"I think [the mentality is] the same really, if you're coming off the bench you want to add a bit of impact, but if you're starting the game you want to start the game with a bit of impact and you want to start well.
"So either way wherever you start, whether it's 20 minutes into the game or at the first kick-off, you want to be starting with some intensity and aggression and that's the mentality either way."
Even though a role off the bench may not seem as glamorous as a position in the starting line-up, the performances of the four-man interchange players each week don't go unnoticed by their Storm teammates.
It's been well documented that coach Craig Bellamy demanded more from his bench unit during a pre-season session, and starting prop Jordan McLean believes his teammates have stepped up to the challenge.
"I think that's been the story of the whole year. We spoke in the pre-season about not letting the standards drop once the starting front-rowers are off the field, so I don’t really think you can tell the difference between the starting and the bench players at the moment," McLean said.
There isn’t much higher praise than how McLean views the bench, but Melbourne's interchange has been that important this season that those words do their performances justice.
Glasby knows the Storm are at their best when all 17 are producing across the 80 minutes each weekend, and he believes that's just down to the way the Storm approach their football.
"We don’t want to change our brand of footy at all when we come on, we want to pick up where they left off and add as much as we can on top as well," Glasby said.
"That is certainly a goal, you don't want to be weakened when your bench is on the field, and I think we've done that in the last few weeks.
"It is the mentality, but at the same time you don't want to just carry on from where they left off, you want to pick it up even more."