After an incredible run of 19-straight years where they have won their opening game of the season, the Storm face perhaps their toughest ask yet in 2024 when they start against defending premiers Penrith.
While four of their first five games being at home presents a chance to make a good start, it also means Melbourne face plenty of road trips in the run home with just two of their final seven games at AAMI Park.
Teams they play twice
Melbourne play all of their fellow 2023 top-four sides the Panthers, Broncos and Warriors twice during the regular season, along with the Knights and Roosters – who were also finals teams last year. The Rabbitohs, Eels and Dolphins are the other home and away match-ups for the Storm.
Teams they play once
Melbourne meet the Sharks, Sea Eagles, Raiders and Cowboys only once, while their other single-game opponents for 2024 – Wests Tigers, Dragons, Bulldogs and Titans – finished in the bottom four places last season.
- Thursday: 7 games (2 home, 5 away)
- Friday: 5 games (2 home, 3 away)
- Saturday: 9 games (6 home, 3 away)
- Sunday: 3 games (2 home, 1 away)
- 5 days: 3 games
- 6 days: 4 games
- 7+ days: 16 days
Melbourne are one of four teams who have the equal most five-day turnarounds in 2024, with short breaks heading into games against the Sea Eagles (Round 12), Rabbitohs (Round 23) and Cowboys (Round 26). Crucially, all of those games come with travel required as they play all three teams on their respective home grounds. The Storm's longest break is 16 days heading into a Round 14 clash against the Knights where their Origin contingent will look to back up after Game One.
- Round 1: v Panthers (H)
- Round 2: v Warriors (H)
- Round 3: v Knights (A)
- Round 4: BYE
It's a tough opening three games against teams who made the finals last year, but the good news is the first two are at home at AAMI Park. A trip to Newcastle to play the Knights in Round 3 is followed by a bye the following week, giving the Storm an early chance to rest and reset.
A fourth different Magic Round opponent awaits Craig Bellamy's men when they take on the Eels as the second of three games on the Sunday slate at Suncorp Stadium. Melbourne have lost each of their past two Magic Round games but have back-to-back wins over Parramatta under their belts.
State of Origin watch
The bye schedule is kind for Melbourne, who historically are well represented in the Origin arena. They won't have to play in Round 13 or 19 when Origin players are out, while they'll take on the Dolphins in Round 16 – which is impacted by Origin II. A longer turnaround to a Sunday game against the Knights after Origin I could help anyone backing up, while they play the Raiders on a Saturday and Roosters on a Saturday after games two and three of the interstate series.
Can't miss game
Round 5 v Broncos, Thursday at AAMI Park (H)
Melbourne's incredible winning run over the Broncos – which at that stage spanned 14 games and seven seasons – ended at the worst possible time in week one of the 2023 finals. It was dramatic too, with Brisbane hammering them 26-0. That won't sit well with anyone at Storm HQ and it adds extra spice to what has always been a great rivalry. Melbourne will be well-rested after the bye in Round 4 and will be eyeing off a crucial two points against a team expected to be in the mix once again for top-four honours in 2024.