Rugby league legends Corey Parker and Cooper Cronk revealed their grave concerns for the Melbourne Storm after the side’s 36-6 defeat at the hands of the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday night.
The Storm were once again without star duo Ryan Papenhuyzen and Jahrome Hughes, forcing coach Craig Bellamy to put Harry Grant, a rake by trade, into the halfback position.
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However, the supercoach admits he got his halfback gamble wrong as the Storm had no answer for a rampant Cowboys side that dominated from the outset.
Cronk, who played over 300 games for the Storm and won multiple premierships with the side, believed that his former employers just didn’t look like their normal selves.
“They were lacking in some areas tonight,” Cronk said.
“68 per cent completion, only one linebreak from one of the best attacking teams we’ve seen for a long period of time.
“I know they’re missing a couple of star players who contribute to that, but I thought in certain areas they weren’t the normal Melbourne Storm.
“I thought Brandon Smith was below par tonight and Marion Seve in the centres, in the right centre spot, they targeted him and found him out a couple of times.”
Parker was equally worried and noted that the absence of Hughes has had a bigger impact than perhaps first feared.
“The last two weeks, the Melbourne Storm, they have been well below par,” Parker said.
“Not competing, a lack of cohesion, these sorts of words are not what you think when you talk about the Melbourne Storm.
“No Papenhuyzen, who we know is at the fullback role and can do some wonderful things, but Jahrome Hughes and his loss over the last two weeks has been key.
“He’s the glue to their team, particularly in the middle where he’s able to dictate which then alleviates the pressure off Cameron Munster, who tonight was well below his part but he’s been very ill this week, I’m led to believe.”
One of the Storm’s positional groups which Parker felt was not pulling their weight was the forwards, who “haven’t really made a dent in anyone” as Melbourne completed just seven sets in the second half against the Cowboys.
Despite the two key absences, Parker admits that Melbourne’s recent performances are a case for “real concern.”
“It’s just not Melbourne-like,” Parker said.
“There was too many errors in their game that you look at and scratch your head and you think, ‘That’s not Melbourne.’
“I think it’s a real concern.”