Ikin: 2017 vintage is best Storm side in this great club's history
THE Melbourne Storm has boasted some of the greatest sides of the modern era but Ben Ikin says the outfit that takes the field in tomorrow's NRL grand final is at another level of excellence.
The NRL 360 co-host and former Broncos and North Sydney star has listed the enormous challenge facing the North Queensland Cowboys against a side that has no frailties.
"This seems to me to be the most complete version of the Melbourne Storm that we have ever seen, and I don't want to discredit the great Melbourne sides that have come before," Ikin said.
"But from fullback to wings, to centres, to halves to front-row, to dummy-half, to leadership, coaching and the bench ... I seriously can't pick a weakness.
"With their attack there is a framework they can fall back on in times of stress and fatigue, but there are also times that they play outside the structure.
"Then there is what they do without the ball.
"Brisbane had 39 attacking shots inside the 20 the other night (in the qualifying final) and couldn't get a try."
The Storm had its 2007 and 2009 premierships taken away after the salary scandal unravelled in 2010. But the following year the club was minor premiers, and in 2012 again reasserted its status as the dominant club in the NRL
"The Storm are established now as the dominant franchise in our game of the last decade," Ikin said.
"The winning of this grand final would rubber-stamp how I already feel about Melbourne, as the best side in the competition over the last 10 years."
The Storm finished the regular season as the leading pointscorer, with 633 points.
Craig Bellamy's men also had the best defensive record, conceding just 336 points at an average of 14 points per match.
Apart from the 'big three' of Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith, the side has strike across the park with two of the fastest wingers in the game, Josh Addo-Carr and Suliasi Vunivalu, a rising star at left centre, Curtis Scott, and the always dangerous Will Chambers on the right.
Starting props Jesse Bromwich and Jordan McLean come off and giant wrecking ball Nelson Asofa-Solomona comes on.
The rapid development of second-rower Felise Kaufusi was on show in the qualifying final when he set up Slater for a crucial second-half try against the Broncos.
If you want to understand how the Melbourne Storm gets the best out of each player then look no further than five-eighth Cameron Munster.
"I watched the coaching staff recognise and identify Cameron's strengths," Ikin said.
"They knew that Cameron Munster was going to be a little different to (previous five-eighth) Blake Green so they needed to accommodate his strengths."