‘Won’t be happy about that’: The silver lining amid Tigers’ major blunder: 3 Big Hits

The Storm will be without Brandon Smith for a month, and Christian Welch and George Jennings long-term after both suffered serious injuries in a come-from behind win over the Tigers.

Smith reeled out a tackle on Joe Ofahengaue in the first set of the match on Saturday night, his left arm hanging limply by his side.

He disappeared up the tunnel after just three minutes while Welch went the same route just before full-time, escorted off by two trainers amid fears he has done his Achilles.

If so, that could be season over.

The Storm also lost winger George Jennings with what appears to be an ACL injury, capping a disastrous night on the injury front.

A distraught Smith eventually returned to the sideline holding his head in his right hand with his left arm in a sling.

He will have scans on Sunday to determine the full extent of his injury and is expected to be out for anywhere between three to six weeks.

The Storm, already without Grant, Cameron Munster and Jesse Bromwich, trailed for most of the night before a Jarome Hughes-inspired comeback killed off the plucky Tigers.

The Storm do have Grant returning from suspension next week but Smith’s absence is a major blow.

Hughes scored one try and made the break for Xavier Coates, on his 21st birthday, to put his side in front for the first time with a try 13 minutes from time.

A late Reimis Smith four-pointer sealed the game.


The Storm will get an early look at life without Brandon Smith over the next month as the superstar recovers from a fractured hand.

Melbourne have plenty of depth but they’ll feel the loss of Smith, Jennings and Welch, the latter two went down with suspected ACL and Achilles injuries.

“Achilles injuries are tough to come back from, they’re one of the hardest to return from, they’re up there with ACLs, that’s how hard they are,” Cooper Cronk said.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy will lose Smith to the Roosters next season but he must now solve how to replace him 12 months early.

“It kills us (those injuries),” Bellamy said.

“Our ruck has sort of been decimated. If someone told me we'd be playing Alec (MacDonald) in the first game of the year in the pre-season — a kid that came from under 20s and hadn’t played a Queensland Cup game — I would have said you’re mad.”

Smith will play lock this year with Harry Grant at hooker and Bellamy has a few options there but NRL great Mick Ennis emphasised it was still a significant loss.

“It’s hard to find a tougher player in the NRL than Brandon Smith, that’s a massive blow,” Ennis said.

“Whether Harry Grant comes back next week or not when Brandon Smith’s in this footy side they are a different footy side, he brings an incredible energy and toughness.”

Fellow Kiwi Nelson Asofa-Solomona will replace Welch, while the lock options are Josh King and young gun Alec McDonald, who made his debut against the Tigers.

“When you’ve got so many stars out... your stars need to stand up. And when you come off the bench, you’ve got to make a difference. Asofa-Solomona’s injection has made a difference,” Mick Ennis said on Saturday night.

Asofa-Solomona almost left the Storm over his controversial vaccination stance but the club worked with him and got a government exemption for him to play in a move that has now proved crucial.

“It’s easy to forget he only got back to training in February,” Fox League reporter Jake Duke said.

“The Storm worked very hard to get him that exemption to get him back in the game, and he’s made a massive impact already, showing how valuable he is to this side.

“He almost wasn’t out there, and with guys like Jesse Bromwich missing, and some of the guys they’ll be missing next year, this guy will be a massive factor for the Storm this year, and for years to come.”

Cameron Munster returns this week which will likely see Nick Meaney move to the wing as Jenning’s replacement, while young guns Will Warbrick and Dean Leremia are also options.

Fox League commentator Dan Ginnane summed it up best after the match: “What’s going through your head Craig Bellamy? No joy on that man’s face. It’s two points, but it’s expensive.”


Jahrome Hughes showed the club he’s the worth the $5 million contract upgrade he’s chasing with another masterclass performance.

Hughes wants a club record six-year contract extension to stay at the club instead of joining Wayne Bennett at the Dolphins.

The 27-year-old’s management is meeting with Melbourne bosses this month in a bid to cement his long-term future at the club,

“What a player. What a season he had last year; elevated himself to the top echelon of halfbacks in this competition,” Ennis said.

Hughes is widely considered the most dangerous running halfback in the NRL and his signature would be a major coup for the Dolphins.

The Kiwi is set to become a free agent from November 1 this year after he opted against triggering the option in his favour for the 2024 season.

“It’s remarkable. He’s only had two full seasons at halfback. He was in the wilderness,” Fox League commentator Dan Ginnane said.

“He was playing a bit of fullback for the Storm, and then Craig Bellamy made the move late 2019 - he bit the bullet and put this man in the 7 jersey, and the rest is history.”

There are fears in Melbourne that Bennett is primed to poach another one of their stars, with the Dolphins already signing Felise Kaufusi and the Bromwich brothers - Jesse and Kenny.

“Jahrome Hughes, such a superstar. They’re already talking about his next contract. He wants to stay at the Melbourne Storm long-term, looking for a possible six-year deal. But no surprise Wayne Bennett is supposedly interested in him at the Dolphins,” Fox League reporter Jake Duke said.


Michael Maguire headed into the 2022 season as the bookies’ favourite to be first coach sacked, but he’s not going anywhere – for now.

The Tigers were committed and courageous despite ultimately falling just short of continuing a first-round full of upsets.

The home side entered the game as rank outsiders but were Melbourne’s equal until the Storm put the foot down in the last 20 minutes.

First half tries to wingers Ken Maumalo and David Nofoaluma helped the Tigers to a 10-4 halftime lead, earning a standing ovation from their hard-to-please fans.

They were back on their feet just three minutes after the break following Maumalo’s second try, the big No.5 soaring over the top of Smith to pull in a cross field kick from Luke Brooks.

He thought he had a third via the same source, only to be held up over the line by some desperate Melbourne defence with the scores locked at 16-all.

“There’d be a lot to take out of the game for the Tigers positively,” Benji Marshall said.

“Madge won’t be happy, they’re in the business of winning and they had the opportunities to win this game.

“The moment you start accepting losses as being ok is not a good start, they won’t be happy about that.

“There was a lot of positives from the game, I thought they really tried their hearts out , they competed really well and that’s what the fans from the Tigers want to see is them competing.”

Cooper Cronk added: “Benji’s right at 14-4 they should’ve gone on to win it with the injuries that Melbourne had they should’ve gone on to win it.

Source: foxsports.com.au