Croft expects Storm excellence
MANY experts are surprised about Melbourne Storm's red-hot start to the NRL season, but not young halfback Brodie Croft.
After losing Cooper Cronk at the end of 2017 and then Billy Slater to retirement after last year's grand final loss, there was an external view that Storm was set for a dip this year.
That certainly hasn't looked the case so far this season, with strong wins against Brisbane and Canberra in the first two rounds.
"I wouldn't say I'm surprised about it," Croft said. "I'd say it's nice we're performing the way we'd like to perform.
"That's how we've been training all pre-season, so it's nice to see it reflecting into games."
Croft described the pre-season as the "toughest" in his four years at the club.
At a club already well renowned for its brutal summer campaigns, that is certainly saying something.
"I'd say it went up another level knowing we'd lost a bit of experience with the likes of (Tim) Glasby, (Ryan) Hoffman and (Billy) Slater from last year's team (departing)," Croft said.
"(Coach) Craig (Bellamy) told us a lot of the younger boys had to step up this year and he really wanted to get us training hard."
Now in his second season as Cronk's halfback replacement, the 21-year-old Croft is feeling more comfortable in his own skin than ever before.
He is calling the shots with more assurance, while at the same time keeping it simple and not overplaying his hand.
"I'm real confident in my position in the team," he said. "So now it is about backing myself and executing on the back of that."
Melbourne face a Penrith outfit on Saturday night that was beaten in Round 1 by Parramatta before backing it up with a strong win over Newcastle last weekend.
Croft said he is expecting a tough battle as Storm looks to secure its third successive win.
"They're a really aggressive and strong team and they'll be throwing everything they've got at us this week," he said.
"It is a good away game for us at Bathurst, and they like playing there so we'll need to be on our game."