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Melbourne Storm odds for 2017 - Grand Final, make the Top 8 and season wins betting

Posted on 03/02 by Joe Gann

Melbourne Storm odds for 2017 - Grand Final, make the Top 8 and season wins betting

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Our NRL expert Joe Gann has assessed all 16 teams for the forthcoming season in his essential 2017 NRL Ladder Predictions, here we take a look at the Melbourne Storm

The Storm may yet reap the rewards from the controversial decision not to take part in the upcoming World Club Championship. The club has cited the taxing travel obligations associated with a regulation NRL season as a non-Sydney team as a reason for the withdrawal and have instead opted to play two trial matches in Australia as preparation to the new campaign.

The impending return of superstar full-back Billy Slater after two injury blighted years will come as a massive boost to a squad depleted by the loss of key personnel in the off-season. During Slaterís absence, young star Cameron Munster has been assigned the unenviable task of filling the boots of the Queensland legend, and he has performed his duties fantastically well. If, as expected, Slater does make his comeback, a move to the backs for the outstanding Munster would look like the obvious choice for his development. With Blake Greenís switch to fierce rivals Manly, the timing of this positional tweak could work out nicely for the Storm.

The roster for 2017 will boast an average age of just twenty two; the invaluable seasoned campaigners that form the core of this team will be complemented well by an influx of talented new blood. Competition for places at the club is fierce; nowhere more so than at five eighths, where Coach Craig Bellamy has no fewer than five players vying for the shirt. Brodie Croft, Jahrome Hughes, Curtis Scott and Ryley Jacks will all provide competition to Munster as to who will partner Cooper Cronk in the halves. Joe Stimson is a new addition to the first-grade squad; a graduate of the under 20ís system, the highly regarded youngster may be the man given the chance to replace the outgoing Kevin Proctor.

A difficult opening draw; in which they face the Bulldogs, Warriors, Broncos, Panthers and, in a repeat of Octoberís Grand Final, the Sharks will provide an acid test to the Stormís chances of repeating their traditionally strong start to a season. However, this may be to the Victoriansí benefit, as four home games in the last six of the season may pave the way for another successful year for Bellamyís side. The sheer match-winning ability of this team, armed with a formidable defence, make it hard to overlook the Storm as competition favourites once more. With the possible reunion of the Holy Trinity of Cronk, Slater and Cameron Smith for one last hurrah, it would be brave to wager against the Melbourne club who will have redemption in mind following the heartbreak of last Octoberís Grand Final loss.

Ins: Josh Addo-Carr (Wests Tigers), Brandon Smith (Cowboys), Vincent Leuluai (Roosters), Jahrome Hughes (Cowboys), Ryley Jacks (Sunshine Coast Falcons).

Outs: Marika Koroibete (Rugby Union), Josh Kerr (Dragons), Ryan Morgan (St Helens), Blake Green (Sea Eagles), Ben Hampton (Cowboys), Richard Kenner (Bulldogs), Kevin Proctor (Titans).

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