NRL fans up in arms over Melbourne Storm move ahead of finals

·Sports Editor
·6-min read
Craig Bellamy, pictured here during a Melbourne Storm game.
Craig Bellamy and the Melbourne Storm have signed David Nofoaluma for the rest of the 2022 season. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

NRL fans are questioning the legitimacy of the Melbourne Storm's signing of Wests Tigers winger David Nofoaluma for the remainder of the season.

The Storm have finally secured some help to address their mounting injury crisis, with Nofoaluma expected to join the side on loan for the remainder of the year.

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With season-ending injuries to Ryan Papenhuyzen, George Jennings and Reimis Smith, and winger Xavier Coates not due back from an ankle injury for another fortnight, the Melbourne club have been scouring the market for help from rival clubs.

After failed bids to lure Reece Walsh from the Warriors and Josh Addo-Carr from the Bulldogs, news emerged on Wednesday that the Tigers have agreed to loan Nofoaluma to the Storm.

David Nofoaluma, pictured here in action for the Wests Tigers against the Parramatta Eels.
David Nofoaluma in action for the Wests Tigers against the Parramatta Eels. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The 28-year-old winger will play out the rest of the season with the Storm before returning to the last-placed Tigers next year, where he's under contract until the end of 2025.

Nofoaluma has scored 95 tries in 175 appearances for the Tigers, including eight in 12 outings this season despite his side's poor form.

However he hasn't played first grade since Round 17 and was named in the Tigers' NSW Cup side on Tuesday.

Melbourne have an 11-7 season record and sit in fifth place, making it almost certain Nofoaluma will get to play finals for the first time in his nine-year career.

However fans have been quick to call into the question the ethics of the Storm's move, which effectively sees a top team improve their side with help from a rival club who can't make the finals.

Because the Storm have one spot free on their 30-man roster, they can add a player from a rival club before the August 1 deadline.

The Panthers did the same thing with Tevita Pangai Junior in 2021, signing him for the rest of the season from the struggling Broncos and going on to win the competition.

However in that instance Pangai was already leaving the Broncos at the end of the season after agreeing to join the Bulldogs in 2022.

Melbourne Storm desperate to turn around poor form

Earlier this week it emerged that the Storm had approached the Bulldogs about bringing back Addo-Carr for the rest of 2022, a move that was rejected by the Dogs.

Bulldogs boss Phil Gould reportedly told the Storm that Addo-Carr was too important to the club’s fanbase to allow him to make the move back to Melbourne after he left the Storm at the end of the 2021 season.

It was the second rejection for the Storm after they made an inquiry to the Warriors about young fullback Reece Walsh.

Walsh was benched for the Warriors' clash with the Raiders last weekend and is leaving the New Zealand side to join the Broncos in 2023.

Cameron Munster, pictured here during Melbourne's loss to South Sydney.
Cameron Munster looks on during Melbourne's loss to South Sydney. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

The Storm are in free-fall after their fourth-successive loss at the weekend at the hands of South Sydney, which followed defeats to Manly, Cronulla and Canberra.

Not since 2015 - the same year they last lost four consecutive games - have Melbourne been as low as fifth on the table so late in the season.

"I wouldn't say I relish it, but (my attitude) is, 'it is what it is'," coach Craig Bellamy said after their loss to Souths.

"It's no use hoping something's going to happen, you've got to make it happen through hard work.

"We are probably at the crossroads. We have got to decide whether we're going to turn left or turn right and, with all due respect, the players will make that decision."

with AAP

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