Can Storm win first title since departure of Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater

Cameron Smith was part of the Storm contingent, which was based in Albury during the COVID-19 break in May.
Cameron Smith was part of the Storm contingent, which was based in Albury during the COVID-19 break in May.

Can Cameron Smith win a premiership as the last member of Melbourne Storm's 'Big Four'?

Smith is arguably the game's greatest player, so he has nothing to prove to anyone.

Naturally there's no greater motivation than winning a premiership, but it would just add another piece to the sport's best resume.

When Melbourne won grand finals in 2007 (Manly) and 2009 (Parramatta), the Storm had Smith, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Cooper Cronk.

Superstar Inglis joined South Sydney in 2011, so he missed the 2012 (Canterbury) and 2017 (North Queensland) titles.

Cronk moved to the Sydney Roosters after that, while Slater retired in 2018.

Since their departure, the Storm haven't won a premiership after being blown away early by the Roosters in the 2018 grand final, while Canberra edged home 12-10 in last year's thrilling preliminary final.

Speculation has been raging for months over whether Smith will retire and you would think if he could lead the club to another premiership - without those other superstars - it completes the near-perfect career.

Don't think for a second though that the Storm isn't blessed with guns. Let's face it, you don't make prelim finals with plodders.

Cameron Munster is the Australian five-eighth and while fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen isn't Slater, he's just as exciting.

Once Slater left, it robbed the club of a stack of attributes, with the ability to produce the remarkable among them.

That left too much to Munster and outstanding defensive teams could focus on him and lessen his impact, but Papenhuyzen's meteoric rise means there's two unpredictable weapons in the backline.

Everyone marvels at the Storm's consistency, but there's no doubt if it can topple Canberra on Friday night and then claim the premiership the following weekend, for the first time post Slater-Cronk, the evolution will be complete.

This story Storm hasn't won a title since Cooper and Billy left, will that change? first appeared on The Border Mail.