New Melbourne Storm captain Christian Welch has backed Nick Meaney to take his sport to “a brand new degree” as the total influence of the membership’s damage catastrophe is laid naked.
Meaney is ready to fill the function of celebrity Ryan Papenhuyzen for a lot of the season after he confirmed his return from a shattered kneecap he suffered final season would depart him out of motion for longer than first thought.
Storm’s backline damage woes have been compounded on Wednesday with winger Dean Ieremia dominated out for the remainder of the season after struggling an ACL damage whereas ahead Tui Kamikamica will miss six weeks with a tendon situation in his foot.
Welch, who was appointed sole captain for 2023 with Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes and Harry Grant as his deputies, stated Meaney would step up within the absence of Papenhuyzen and others would rise to the problem of filling different roles.
“Nick Meaney has had an awesome pre-season, he’s performed nicely within the trials. We noticed final 12 months as a utility his skill to play in quite a lot of positions,” Welch stated.
“We’ve received younger Sua (Fa’alogo), a Victorian lad who a number of of you’ll’ve seen the week earlier than with some massive line breaks.
“So we’ve received some actually thrilling gamers coming by way of, and I feel it’s a testomony to the membership that whereas Paps is out that subsequent crop coming by way of are being developed.
“Yearly we lose three, 4 of 5 gamers, and the membership does a extremely nice job of creating homegrown gamers and younger 18, 19-year-olds to stand up and take these spots.”
New recruit Tariq Sims’ imminent return from a calf damage would bolster the Storm’s top-end expertise, Welch stated.
“He’s going to return in and add lots to our group,” he stated.
“We’ve misplaced a bit, however we’ve additionally picked up lots, and these guys we have now within the room (Munster, Hughes and Grant), our backbone gamers, they’re the very best within the competitors, so we’ve simply received to remain wholesome I feel and we needs to be proper.”
Welch will take the helm on the Storm after sharing the captaincy in 2022 with departed veteran Jesse Bromwich, however solely led the facet within the opening spherical earlier than a ruptured Achilles introduced his season to an finish.
The 28-year-old prop is coming into his ninth season with the Storm, having performed 119 matches since his debut in 2015.
Ryan Papenhuyzen and Tom Eisenhuth spherical out the Storm’s six-player management group after being promoted from the membership’s rising leaders’ workforce.
“It’s an enormous honour to be captain … it’s actually one thing that I’ll cherish for a very long time,” Welch stated.
“However as I stated to the boys as we speak within the assembly, it’s a gaggle effort … we’re all working onerous to set the requirements off the sector and likewise on the sector.
“We’ve received an awesome group of men, senior guys and rep gamers who’ve been round for a very long time, and it’s time for us to essentially take the membership ahead.”