Competition - NRL
Round - Finals Week 3
Teams – Melbourne Storm v Canberra Raiders
Date –    24th of September 2016
Venue – AAMI Park, Melbourne VIC
Photographer – Brett Crockford
Description –

Milestones of 2016

History makers

When Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith took the field for Melbourne’s Preliminary Final against Canberra the champion pair achieved something no other set of teammates ever have before.

For the first time in NRL history two 300-game players appeared on the field in the same team.

Few have managed to accomplish what the champion duo has in their careers as Smith and Cronk continue to carve their own chapter into rugby league’s history books.

Cronk made his Storm debut in 2004, two years after Smith and the pair have enjoyed incredible success together at Club, Origin, and International level.

In their 14 years as Storm teammates they have taken part in 13 finals series and played in five grand finals.
 

Suli soars

Suliasi Vunivalu’s rookie season saw the Fijian flyer leave record after record in his wake.

From a double on debut in Round 7, Vunivalu went on to break Israel Folau’s Storm try-scoring record. He also became the first Storm player since Billy Slater in 2005 to top the NRL’s try scoring tally, finishing the year with 23 tries.

Vunivalu’s tries against the Cowboys in the Qualifying Final made him the first player to score 23 tries in their debut season since Larry Corowa in 1978, meaning the youngster sits fifth on the all time list for tries scored by rookies in their opening year of first-grade.
 

Marika Koroibete
50 NRL games (Round 1)
50 Storm games (Round 21)

The Fijian winger and fan favourite, Koroibete reached two milestones at the bookends of the 2016 season. Opening the year with his 50th NRL match, the winger then etched his name into Storm’s records in Round 21 when he ran out for his 50th game in the purple jersey.
 

Jordan McLean
50 NRL/Storm games (Round 5)

After a hard road to 50 games was prolonged by injury, McLean reached his milestone in Round 5 alongside close mate Kenny Bromwich. The 25-year old quickly became Jesse Bromwich’s starting partner at prop in 2016 with his go forward giving Melbourne great attacking impetus.
 

Kenny Bromwich
50 NRL/Storm games (Round 5)

The hard working Bromwich reached his milestone against the Knights at AAMI Park in Round 5 adding to the list of Storm’s early season achievements. Kenny joined Jesse to become the first set of brothers to play 50 games for the Club.
 

Cheyse Blair
50 NRL games (Round 15)

After being cruelled by injury in recent seasons, Blair’s switch to Melbourne allowed the hard running centre to play his 50th NRL game in Round 15 in Wollongong. The 24-year old slotted into Melbourne’s backline to play a crucial role for Craig Bellamy after making his Storm debut in Round 9.
 

Tim Glasby
50 NRL/Storm games (Round 9)

A late debutant to first-grade football, Glasby’s road in NRL was rewarded in Round 9 when he reached 50 games against the Titans. The Queenslander’s rise into one of the league’s up and coming forwards was recognized earlier in the year with his selection in Queensland’s Emerging Origin squad.
 

Dale Finucane
100 NRL games (Round 11)
50 Storm games (Grand Final)

Finucane was another player to achieve dual milestones in 2016. The 25-year old played his 100th NRL game in Round 11 at Pirtek Stadium before reaching his 50th game for Storm in the Grand Final in what was just his second season at the Club.
 

Jesse Bromwich
150 NRL/Storm games (Round 20)

Going from strength to strength in 2016, the accolades continued to fall Bromwich’s way. The leader of Storm’s pack became just the 10th Melbourne player to reach 150 games in Round 20 against the Roosters, joining elite company at the Club.
 

Tohu Harris
100 NRL/Storm games (Round 26)

The consistent back-rower reached his milestone in Storm’s final round minor premiership showdown with the Sharks at AAMI Park, racing to 100 games. The reliable Kiwi international has remarkably missed just one game since making his NRL debut in Round 1, 2013, a testament to his durability.
 

Blake Green
50 Storm games (Grand Final)

Green celebrated his 50th Storm game on the biggest stage of all, the 2016 NRL Grand Final. Since making the switch from Wigan in the English Super League, the likeable five-eighth has proved to be a mainstay in Craig Bellamy’s line-up alongside halves partner Cooper Cronk, fitting into the Club’s culture seamlessly.
 

Cooper Cronk
300 NRL/Storm games (Preliminary Final)

When he ran onto AAMI Park for Storm’s Preliminary final against the Raiders, Cooper Cronk achieved something only 24 players in the game’s history had done before him.

Cronk reached the illustrious 300-game milestone and in doing so took yet another step towards rugby league immortality.

It was yet another incredible chapter in what has been a famous career for the champion halfback.

What made the landmark night even more memorable was that it was the first time in NRL history two 300-game players ran out for the same Club.

Cronk was the second Storm player to reach 300 games after skipper Cameron Smith the previous year.
 

Curtis Scott
NRL Debut (Round 2)

After an impressive Auckland Nines showing, Scott pushed his way into Craig Bellamy’s backline to begin the season. Scott’s energy and pace helped Melbourne to their second victory of the season, defeating the Titans on a warm day at AAMI Park.
 

Suliasi Vunivalu
NRL Debut (Round 7)

Suliasi Vunivalu had a debut to remember in a season he won’t forget, scoring two tries against Wests Tigers in Storm’s thrilling one point win at Leichhardt Oval. The Flying Fijian etched his name into the record books, scoring with his second touch of the football in the opening minute of play.
 

Brodie Croft
NRL Debut (Round 15)

Thrust into the halfback role in an inexperienced Storm outfit missing several leaders, Croft steered his side around the park showing composure belying his years. The 18-year old earned a try assist in his first-grade debut during Storm’s narrow loss to the Dragons.
 

Storm Debuts
Matt White, Ryan Morgan, Cheyse Blair


Craig Bellamy
The master coach now sits eighth on the list for most NRL games coached and fifth on the all time list for most wins.
 

Cameron Smith
The Storm skipper and Melbourne games record holder continues to move up rugby league’s all time games list sitting sixth on 335 appearances in the Storm jersey.