NRL relocating to QLD favours Storm in title race according to former champion

Written by on 20 July 2021

Former Storm premiership winner Ben Cross believes the NRL competition moving to Queensland gives his old club an advantage in the title race.

The Storm were based on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in 2020 due to Melbourne’s COVID lockdown and managed to win the grand final.

Cross is confident the experience Melbourne gained last year and the time it will take other clubs to adapt increases the Storm’s chances to go back-to-back.

“Those teams now that have to relocate from Sydney it is going to be quite foreign to them because they didn’t have to do it last year, so Melbourne have a leg up on all those clubs.

“It is just the adaptability, which team is going to adapt the fastest and Melbourne showed last year they were able to do it well enough for long enough to get the premiership, Cross said.

The Storm sit in equal first with the Penrith Panthers who they defeated in the 2020 NRL Grand Final.

Cross credited the home record of the Panthers as one of their strengths which they concede with the move to Queensland.

“If you had a look at last year’s grand final it was chalk and cheese.

“Penrith was one of the most undisrupted teams of all the NRL clubs because most of their games were played in Penrith and Parramatta and then you had the Storm being away from Melbourne all year,” Cross said.

Ben Cross spent two seasons at the Melbourne Storm where he won the 2006 NRL Grand Final with the club in his first season.

He noticed the club’s ability to evolve in his time at the club which has seen the Storm dominate the competition for the past 15 years.

“It’s finding ways to adapt and manipulate rules to their advantage and all clubs do it, but they seem to be the best at it.

“Just staying above the curve and showing a bit of foresight in what the game is going to look like in a couple of years.

“Knowing players you can adapt and change in different positions, they may not have played there before and been pigeonholed in those positions,” Cross said.

2020 Minor Premiers the Penrith Panthers are learning to adapt to the expectation and how to win with captain Nathan Cleary on the sideline with a shoulder injury.

Cross thinks the unknown of the injury and the Storm’s form will be enough to see Melbourne claim back-to-back premierships.

“Penrith with their injuries could be a question mark and with Melbourne going the way they are it is hard to go past them,” Cross said.

The Storm are the first team in history to score 40 or more points in 11 matches of a season.

Melbourne will play the North Queensland Cowboys on Friday night in Round 19 of the NRL premiership.

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