Harry Grant is following in the footsteps of NRL legend and former teammate Cameron Smith after being appointed the Melbourne Storm's new captain in 2024. Grant's elevation to the captaincy represents a brutal blow for fellow Queensland State of Origin forward and teammate, Christian Welch, who has also been overlooked by coach Craig Bellamy for a co-captain's role.
Bellamy has instead turned to Cameron Munster and Jahrome Huges as the two co-captains to assist Grant, who made his debut for the Storm in 2018 and has so far played 62 games for the club. The promotion is just reward for the 25-year-old Queensland and Kangaroos rake, who has established himself as the premier hooker in the game.
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Grant has played in the last four State of Origin series for Queensland - with the Maroons reigning supreme on three occasions across that period. The crafty hooker has also played eight Test matches for Australia and was a key part of the Kangaroos' victorious 2022 World Cup campaign.
Harry Grant honoured to be named Storm skipper
The 25-year-old becomes just the second hooker to captain the Storm after Maroons and Kangaroos legend Smith, who played a record 430 NRL games for the club and is widely regarded as a future Immortal. Grant's historic elevation into the Storm captaincy continues Bellamy's preference to have a forward as his on-field leader.
“It really is an honour to be given the opportunity to lead this group of players and our Club,” Grant said. "We have had some legends Captain the Storm and for my name to be listed next to someone like Cameron Smith, Robbie Kearns, Stephen Kearney and so many others is surreal.
“Welchy has done an incredible job over the last two seasons, and I know I can lean on him for advice and support along with Munster and Hughesy standing next to me. We have some great players and natural leaders in the group and I can't wait to get stuck into the season with them.”
Christian Welch dumped from Storm leadership group
However, the move could be seen as a bitter blow for Welch, who shared the captaincy with Jesse Bromwich in 2022, before taking sole responsibility last season. Welch led the club in what was viewed as a transformative year at the Storm, following a number of departures in the forward pack, but has not been included in the six-man leadership group that the Storm posted on social media.
The Maroons forward is still expected to be leaned on for advice by his Storm teammates but his leadership snub has taken many fans by surprise. Storm coaching coordinator Jason Ryles is set to oversse the club's leadership team and has been widely tipped to replace Bellamy after what could be the coach's final year in 2024.
Melbourne will open their campaign against premiers Penrith on March 8 as they look to improve on last year's preliminary final finish. While the promotion of Grant signals the dawn of a new era at the Storm under Bellamy, the decision has been met with a mixed response from fans, with many shocked by the Welch snub.
Very interesting to see Grant named as captain, and the other 5 leaders. Odd that Welch is nowhere to be seen! #purplepride
— JG (@Jaiggg_) February 7, 2024
Welch goes from captain to not even in the leadership group?
— Footy (@Cameroncirofan) February 7, 2024
Sad about it as well but he hasn’t been the same since coming back from his injury. Hopefully it’s motivation for him
— Jay (@slowdownjordon) February 7, 2024
Welch totally demoted from responsibility, seems abit odd
— Danny Renwick (@renners17) February 7, 2024
What happened to Christian Welch?
— Theresa Bradley 🌱💉💉🐾 🏴 🌻🌱 (@ownedbyhoundies) February 7, 2024
On ya Harry .
This is a game changer. Welch and Hughes great captains but this bloke won’t be a Cam Smith but will be in the same mould. We need a decision maker at the death, a captain who can control the game. Got him. 👍
— Tom Charleston (@TomCharleston2) February 7, 2024
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