LEAGUE legend Matty Johns says the Melbourne Storm have the best kept secret in the competition in their ranks and despite his freakish talent, only an injury will see the young star play first grade.
Speaking on Triple M’s Deadset Legends program Johns nominated Melbourne Storm half Brodie Croft as the player to watch, saying he had “superstar” written all over him.
“You saw during the Nines. I sort of watched him over the last few years, he’s an absolute clone of Cooper Cronk,” Johns said.
“For all intents and purposes they’re going to start the season with (Cooper) Cronk at halfback, (Cameron) Munster at six and (Billy) Slater at one, which is an outstanding combination.
“But if something happens through the year Bellamy will not hesitate and put Croft into the halves. He’s ready for first grade.”
The Storm is well stocked for halves options, as the return from injury of Billy Slater has forced Cameron Munster into the five-eighth role. They have lost Blake Green to the Manly Sea-Eagles, but now have Croft waiting in the wings, they are the envy of most clubs in the NRL.
But given the shortage of genuine half options, the Storm may struggle to keep their prized rookie.
“He’s a clone of Cooper. I think it’s symbolic of where young players are at with their maturity, he’s ready for first grade, he’s one to really keep an eye on,” Johns said.
“There’s not a lot of really great halfbacks. Top-line halfbacks are as rare as hen’s teeth. So he’s got a big future.”
Despite finishing the season as minor premiers, the Storm lost a thrilling 2016 Grand Final to the Cronulla Sharks. Craig Bellamy’s men will be considered a genuine contender once again when the NRL competition begins in just a fortnight’s time.
The Storm has been premiership contenders for the best part of a decade and opposition clubs have looked to learn from their success.
But Johns says NRL sides need to change things up and be prepared to innovate, as he expects a new wave of attacking football to commence.
“At last teams have woken up and realised you can’t beat Melbourne playing ‘Diet Melbourne’,” Johns said.
“You can’t beat them playing the same attacking patterns, because your ability to attack mirrors how you defend that type of shape.
“Last year, teams like Penrith and Canberra showed the way — good old-fashioned shifts of the football. Two long passes, threaten, put the ball through the hands a little bit.
“That’s how you unsettle the status quo. That’s how you rock the boat. We’re entering an era where attack dominates.”
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