Warriors shock solution to Walsh dilemma, Smith shines in new role: 3 Big Hits

The Storm broke blocks with back-to-back attempts for star rookie Xavier Coates and new lock Brandon Smith to lead 12-0.

However, a brace from Marcelo Montoya put the Warriors back in the competition before a try from Reece Walsh from the bench gave the Warriors a 14-12 halftime lead.

After the break, Dean Ieremia put the Storm back in front when he slipped into the corner.

However, three tries in the final 10 minutes from Garrett Smith, Junior Ratuva and Matt Lodge saw the Warriors come from behind to register a convincing victory in the end.

Here are the main takeaways from the game.


The Warriors made the shock call to play Chanel Harris-Tavita at fullback against the Storm in a bid to fill the void left by Reece Walsh’s suspension.

Walsh will not play in the first two rounds due to a suspension carried over from last year and Warriors coach Nathan Brown has revealed his thinking behind the change, which also resulted in Ash Taylor getting a shooting in the halves.

“With Reece suspended at the start of the year, we’re going to have some luck against Chanel at the back in the trials and see how that works out, so that’ll take care of one of them,” Brown said. .

“It’s an interesting thing (selecting the halves). We didn’t prefer anyone to anyone else.

“We’ll see how the form plays out in tryouts and to be honest with you we’re very confident that Shaun (Johnson) will bring a lot to the table, so probably whoever gets his defense right, his good kicking game, the will be the one we want to lean towards, I imagine.

“Today and next week we’ll tell a story if Chanel can enjoy playing in the back and holding her gloves up there.” Harris-Tavita was impressive early on producing 46 yards running, a line break and an assist in a solid display at the back, before moving on at halftime when Walsh came onto the pitch.

However, Walsh showed his class when he ran 60 yards to go with two assists, an assist and a try in a match-winning match.

“He’s a class above everyone on the court,” Smith said.

The Storm can’t get Walsh back on the pitch soon enough and they hope rumors of his desire to return home to Queensland are not true as he is an exceptional talent around which the club can build their future.

Nathan Brown also revealed that he was impressed with Ash Taylor during pre-season and was thrilled to see him enjoying his football again after a tough couple of seasons with the Titans.

“From what I understand he didn’t enjoy the last few years of his football career,” Brown said.

“I don’t think he liked being on the amount of money he had and being the face of the club.

“He’s one of those young boys who loves football, so I guess it was mostly seeing him happy in training, which probably hasn’t happened to Ash in a while.

“As a player he is eager not to read about how much money he is.”


Brandon Smith is set to fill the void left by Dale Finucane’s departure in the No13 shirt for the Storm in 2022 and early signs were good for Melbourne despite their defeat.

Smith had 83 yards of running, six tackle saves, a line break and 18 clean tackles against the Warriors and scored the Storm’s second down with a brilliant run off the ruck.

“I think that’s where his future lies at the Storm with that No. 13 on his back,” Shane Flanagan said on Fox League.

“Obviously they lost a few players this year, the Melbourne Storm, especially Dale Finucane to the Sharks who wore that No 13 for a long time.

“But Smith is so powerful. It is built at ground level. He’s strong and he’s fast.

“We knew how much he came out of the dummy, but so he could play that role as well. He’s a bit like Victor Radley and those types of players. He’s able to carry and pass, but his running game is so dangerous.

Craig Bellamy also mentioned before the game that he could use Cameron Munster as a full-back when he returns from suspension with Ryan Papenhuyzen, potentially only to miss the start of the season through injury.

Munster spent time at the back against the Warriors and could find themselves in the No.1 shirt when they return in Round 2.


Benji Marshall believes Xavier Coates could become the buy of the year after scoring on his debut with his first touch for the Storm.

“He could potentially be the signing of the season,” Marshall said.

The Storm have lost a lot of firepower with Suliasi Vunivalu and Josh Addo-Carr leaving for back-to-back seasons and Coates could be the man to fill that void.

Coates was impressive in his first outing in purple running for 53 yards with two tackle jumps, a line break, four clean tackles and a try in an eye-catching first-half display against the Warriors.

Warren Smith and Shane Flanagan believe Coates will relish the chance to work with AFL stars in Melbourne, which will enhance his already excellent aerial skills.

“First contact with the Melbourne Storm and he is a try scorer,” Smith said.

“This is how you start the Broncos’ move south to Melbourne for 2022.

“It will be fascinating to see how his career develops under Craig Bellamy in the Storm system.

“They have always had access to the AFL teams in Melbourne and the striking and receiving prowess they bring.

“We’ve seen that over the years with Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater.”

“He’s a snappy player and he just beats his man on the outside and comes back,” Flanagan said of Coates’ try.

“What a way to start your career at the Melbourne Storm. To try with your first touch.

“I’m sure he had connections with the AFL there to do work under the high ball.

“That was probably one of his strengths anyway and if he improves he’ll be a target on that left wing for Munster and Hughes all season.”

Source: foxsports.com.au

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