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Can the Storm Repeat 2017 Heroics?

Can the Storm Repeat 2017 Heroics?

Monday 12 Feb 2018 7:07am

As we move into the second month of 2018, the return of rugby league is here, with domestic competition taking centre stage once again after an exciting international tournament at the end of last year.

It was Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk that guided Australia to a thrilling 6-0 victory over England in the World Cup final on home soil, with the trio finishing an excellent 2017 in the best way by leading their country to glory on the world stage, just months after they had led their beloved Melbourne Storm to success in the NRL.

In what was Cooper Cronk’s final year with the Storm, Melbourne ran out eventual winners in the NRL Grand Final, defeating the North Queensland Cowboys 34-6. Cronk has moved onto the Sydney Roosters, with his new side installed as favourites to win the 2018 competition, with the Roosters at shorter odds than the likes of North Queensland and last season’s Premiers, Melbourne.

Melbourne will of course have one eye on the World Club Challenge before their assault on NRL success again, with Craig Bellamy’s side set to go up against Leeds Rhinos in the coming weeks, where the two clubs, who are steeped in World Club Challenge tradition, will look to be named the best club side on the planet.

As expected, Melbourne are heavy favourites to win the World Club Challenge, with various bookmakers pricing them as odds-on favourites to win the competition, whilst Leeds are heading to Australia for the first time, with Brian McDermott’s side not fancied at all to pick up another world crown. Customers looking to bet on the contest this year might want to check out some of the 2018 free bets from Australian bookmakers, who are offering a range of offers, which could cushion any unlikely wager.

There are a number of exciting events in Australian rugby league this year, with the World Club Challenge just the first. Queensland and New South Wales will once again be going head-to-head in the State of Origin, with that to come before the NRL finals, which will once again see the best that the competition has to offer going up against each other in a thrilling knockout rugby competition.

Last season, it was Melbourne who blew the rest of the NRL away, and although they were matched by others for the majority of the competition, they remained the standout team throughout 2017 and were deservedly crowned Premiers at the business end of the season.

The departure of Cronk will hurt Bellamy’s side, and with the loss of the influential scrum-half, Melbourne are considerably weaker. Added to that, both Smith and Slater are another year closer to retirement and there is the matter of the World Club Challenge distraction before the season begins, both issues that will play a part in the Storm’s form this season.

Whether Melbourne can be crowned Premiers once again, or we witness a new champion later in the year, 2018 looks like being an exciting year for rugby league. 

Photo Credit: Billy Slater say hi (Public Domain) by manchesterunitedbowie