Proof that you can have too much of a good thing

Proof that you can have too much of a good thing

When I was a little kid, I always loved to jostle around what my dad and older brother were doing to try and be part of the crew.

My mom used to tell me that too many cooks spoil the broth. It never appealed to me when I was a kid, but given the current problem with the Melbourne Storm, I have a new context to apply it to.

Melbourne Storm is currently first on the ladder, coming up with a shock loss to Parramatta, who essentially dominated the game, throwing back whatever the Storm sent their way. With a week left of the regular season, calls for the Storm, which may have “peaked too early” or may have “looked tired,” have all come out of the woodwork.

To refer back to the old saying my mother would use with me, the problem is that there are just too many key people in key positions causing trouble.

To think having an abundance of caliber spine players as a potential problem seems more than crazy, but listen to me.

The backbone consists of the whore, the halfback, the five-eighth and the fullback. Currently, the Storm have two of the league’s best players in two of those positions, namely hooker and fullback.

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

There is really a huge problem with this. At hooker you have two completely different players. One, Brandon Smith, is very team-oriented and loves the dirty work. He is a tough, gritty and strong-to-the-ground type hooker. He seems to know his part and is nailing it every week, especially in 2021.

Then you have Harry Grant, a very fast dummy half who likes to play away quickly and tends to run first and pass second. Grant also tends to create the game that works best for him first, rather than the team.

All season Craig Bellamy has been with Smith at the start to do the rough, heavy early work and then Grant has gone off the bench to let tired legs run off their feet. This is the answer for the whore roll and it should stay that way. Smith isn’t as big as he was last year when he was a utility number 14 in the forwards, and he got beat up when he played a running forward this year. This is the answer for the whore roll.

There is only one man per position for halfback and five-eighth, and they are tried and proven. Jahrome Hughes should never wear the No. 7, and Cam Munster is the best player in the league in his day. He can hold that No. 6 jersey as long as he breathes.

The last number is the fullback. At the start of the league, Ryan Papenhuyzen, a megastar, a proven top-three fullback in the league, was the fullback. No arguments there. But on lap 10, he took a massive blow that left him struggling with concussion and causing him to miss footy for over ten weeks.

Backup Nicho Hynes took over the custodial role and absolutely set it on fire. His natural ball game style matched so well with the other spine members and the Storm flew. It even landed Hynes a huge deal for Cronulla from 2022 onwards.

For the past few weeks, Bellamy has been trying to get Papenhuyzen back in the fold from the couch, and although he seems fine, something is still wrong. He runs back with half the intention he used to, and to me that suggests that he’s still upset about his previous concussion.

When Hynes started out without the Papenhuyzen effect, he played carefree and open footy, which worked 100 percent, but since Papenhuyzen has returned and is breathing on his neck, Hynes has shot himself at the style of footy that made him a household name, which is a huge shame. Hynes has the X-factor, but since Papenhuyzen’s return, he’s really been playing a style of footy that doesn’t work for him.

Ryan Papenhuyzen scores a try

(Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

So what’s the problem with having two great fullbacks? It’s a matter of you start and why. One is a supreme ball player and plays what lies ahead. The other is a workhorse and a great support player who likes the rough work and steady runs.

But my gut feeling is to start with Hynes moving forward and letting Papenhuyzen either play off the couch with Grant or possibly sit out for the season to regenerate his engine and regain his lead for 2022.

Is Papenhuyzen resting? Are you angry? Maybe, but he’s clearly not back to his best, and his presence clearly affects Hynes’s game, and in all his best qualities, he seems understated since he’s returned from his concussion. I think Papenhuyzen needs the low season and finds his lead again in the preparation for 2022.

So where does that leave us? With Brandon Smith as whore and Nicho Hynes as fullback. Harry Grant and Ryan Papenhuyzen would sit on the bench – or if Papenhuyzen were to be rested, Grant and three would turn forward.

Since all their front troops should be back, if Papenhuyzen were equipped, my bench would consist of Grant, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Tui Kamikamica and Chris Lewis, who also provide back cover. If Papenhuyzen ended up on the bench, I would hold Asofa-Solomona and choose between Tui or Lewis, depending on the opponent.

This is how I would deal with the Storm’s current problem with too many players in key positions. These are big calls, and some of them may backfire on me, but this is how I would accept it all.

What would you do, Roarers?

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