Reigning premiers will watch on from the sidelines in the 2013 grand final.
Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith says he will struggle to sleep in the follow weeks after his side were dumped out of the NRL finals by a gusty Newcastle Knight side.
The premiers were left to wonder what might have been as they fell to the Knights 18-16 at AAMI Park.
Typifying the magnitude of the victory for the Knights, they had not left the Victorian capital with a win under their belts since 2004.
The Storm, who has been well-known for their discipline with the ball in hand saw their title slip out of their fingers, literally, as they racked an uncustomary error rate.
In fact the Storm turned the ball over 11 times, something that Smith says will burn away in the back of his mind until he can step away from the game before the club’s pre-season begins in earnest.
“I’ll probably have a couple of sleepless nights over the next week, pondering what could have been this year,” Smith said.
“We weren’t good enough against the Knights and we weren’t good enough this year.”
“It’s hard in this competition to get all the way every year
“This is our worst result, taking out 2010 (when they played for no points due to salary cap infringements), since 2005 when we haven’t made a prelim or made a grand final.
“To me that gets lost in the result this year but that’s a fair achievement for an organisation to do that in this competition.”
Smith, Billy Slater and potentially Cooper Cronk could have further playing duties this season with the Storm star trio in the running to be named in the Australian side that will tackle the Rugby League World Cup in the United Kingdom.