Storm will use pain of loss in 2017
Photo Source: AAP
Having Billy Slater back on board and an NRL grand final under their belts can only make Melbourne Storm a better side in 2017, says Cooper Cronk.
The superstar halfback said while their two-point loss to Cronulla in the NRL title decider stung, there were some positives to be taken from the season.
"When you're the losing side in a grand final you try and hang your hat on something and you can look at the positives and say we've made some big steps in the direction this club wants to go to in terms of our next tier of players playing really well," Cronk said.
"Now if we ever go to the grand final again they will be better off for the occasion."
Test fullback Slater missed the season after re-injuring his troublesome shoulder in round one, but said post-grand final that he still had the hunger to play on next season.
Cronk said the return of Slater would be a bonus for the club, with his young gun fullback replacement Cameron Munster set to shift to five-eighth.
"Billy Slater is still the best fullback in the game and I know as a person and an athlete he will do everything possible ... and I'm backing him to come back and play his best football," said Cronk at a fan presentation on the Yarra River.
After claiming the minor premiership and coming so close to the title, missing an opportunity for a last-ditch try to steal the win, Cronk said they would use the pain of the loss to drive their bid for a premiership in 2017.
"It will probably sit with me for 12 months until we get another opportunity," Cronk said.
"You can use it as motivation in the pre-season to get out and have a red-hot crack and see where you end up next October."
Coach Craig Bellamy said the club would have a post-season review next week but didn't expect too much to change for next season given they won the minor premiership.
"To be the minor premiers it means you're the best team for six months, to be the premiers you have to be the best team for the last month and we weren't quite that," Bellamy said.
"But that gives you plenty of reasons to be proud of them."