Finucane hardest to replace at Storm

Scott BaileyAAP
Dale Finucane's leadership, on and off the NRL field, will be hard to replace for Melbourne.
Camera IconDale Finucane's leadership, on and off the NRL field, will be hard to replace for Melbourne. Credit: AAP

Dale Finucane looms as the hardest man to replace for Melbourne as Craig Bellamy admits he, Nicho Hynes and Josh Addo-Carr leave the club with a big hole to fill.

The Storm's first season without retired longtime skipper Cameron Smith finished one week earlier than most expected as Saturday's 10-6 NRL preliminary final loss to Penrith ended their title defence

But the powerhouse club's 19 straight wins in 2021 showcased their ability to always replace from within, doing it in the year after they lost the last member of their famed Big Three.

Finucane helped lead Melbourne into their new era without Smith, named as co-captain with Jesse Bromwich earlier this year.

But he now moves to Cronulla alongside breakout star Hynes, while Origin winger Addo-Carr heads to Canterbury.

The Storm will bring Xavier Coates in for Addo-Carr's wing, while Nick Meaney is Hynes' replacement.

"The three of them, they'll leave a big hole," Bellamy said.

"Josh has been wonderful for our club.. We all know the tries he scores, he can turn a game in the blink of an eye.

"And with Nicho ... what he did for our team earlier this year while Paps (Ryan Papenhuyzen) was out, with the football he produced to get us where we did on the table.

"But there will be opportunities for other guys to step up and do the job for us."

While Melbourne have the depth in their pack to replace Finucane as a middle forward, replacing his leadership is a bigger challenge.

Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk, Ryan Hoffman, Smith and now Finucane have all left the club in the past four years.

"We have had some wonderful players at our club and wonderful competitors," Bellamy said.

"But we haven't had anyone who prepares for the game like Dale. He has been better for our club than the club has been for him.

"He has taught a lot of young guys how to prepare, and as well all see on the field, we have no better competitor out on the field.

"The legacy he leaves is how young guys have learned off him.

"You want to be a professional, you want to do it properly, go and watch Dale Finucane. He'll show you how to do it properly"

Arriving at Melbourne in 2015, Finucane played in four grand finals in his seven years at the Storm, winning in 2017 and 2020, while he also made his NSW Origin debut in 2019.

Melbourne were eager to keep Finucane, but at age 30 they could not match the big-money offers thrown at him by Sydney clubs.

"I am so grateful for what they (the Storm) have done for me, particularly Craig," Finucane said.

"I had an expectation of what the club might be like, but it exceeded them."

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