This year may be drawing to a close but there are plenty of reasons for Storm fans to be excited about 2017!
Here are few to begin the countdown to the New Year:
Young and exciting
Boasting an average age of 22, Storm’s playing squad for the 2017 NRL season will be full of youth and excitement. The team possesses the ideal blend of experienced superstars and emerging talent with an average of 59 games played. Rising stars Cameron Munster and Suliasi Vunivalu will all have another pre-season under their belt while leaders Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith proved last season they simply get better with age. Expect this team to play with plenty of energy and little fear in 2017.
AAMI Park blockbusters
Three of Storm’s first four games at AAMI Park will all be against teams that played in the finals last year. It all kicks off with a Thursday night showdown against the Broncos in Round 3. Two weeks later the Penrith Panthers come to town followed by the Sharks for a Sunday showdown in a Grand Final rematch. After that tough run, Storm will then face the Warriors in the traditional ANZAC Day Blockbuster in Round 8. The Club will also take centre stage in Melbourne during the final six weeks of the season, with four of those games to be played at home. Arch rivals Manly return to AAMI Park in Round 21 before the season concludes with back-to-back blockbusters against the Rabbitohs and then Raiders, with Storm to once again be the only show in town in Round 26.
He has been training the house down during the first few months of pre-season, leaving Billy Slater in great shape heading into 2017. The champion fullback will look to increase contact work in the New Year in order to put his shoulder to the test but all signs are pointing to Slater returning to his No.1 purple jersey next season. It will be a sight Storm fans have been longing for and may not have to wait very long to see it again.
Eight new players walked through the doors of AAMI Park in the off-season meaning there is plenty of new talent in the playing group to get Storm fans excited. Electrifying winger Josh Addo-Carr, has crossed from Wests Tigers after an impressive debut season in 2016 while Jahrome Hughes and Brandon Smith are the highly touted pair recruited from the Cowboys. Tui Kamikamica and Ryley Jacks have earned their place in the NRL squad after standout performances for feeder side Sunshine Coast Falcons while Jake Turpin and Charlie Galo have graduated from the Thunderbolts development program.
Smith eyes off more milestones
The Storm skipper is just 15 games away from making his 350th NRL appearance. That is impressive in itself but he could be set to trump that only weeks later when he overtakes Darren Lockyer for most games played in NRL history. Lockyer ended his career on 355 meaning the all-time record is well and truly in Smith’s sights. With his name already scattered across the rugby league history books, 2017 could be the year the future immortal completely takes over.