The season has not even kicked off but already Melbourne are counting the cost of the loss of halfback Cooper Cronk to injury.
Cronk, 25, received surgery on a troublesome groin injury at the weekend and has already been ruled out of the Storm’s World Club Challenge against Leeds in February.
Club officials say Cronk could be unavailabe for up to four months, meaning the two-cap test star is likely to miss the opening five rounds of the NRL.
The news is a huge blow to the Storm, who have been without Cronk for just two games since he joined the club in 2006.
The news of Cronk’s injury compounds the fact that the club will already be without prop Brett White who has received shoulder surgery.
Storm Football manager Frank Ponissi conceded the club would have liked have the surgeries done straight after the Grand Final win but said the club could not deny Cronk and White the chance to play for Australia.
“It wasn’t the type of injuries that could stop either of them playing, and we couldn’t deny them the chance to play for their country,” Ponissi said.
“Cooper got through the tour and it was 50/50 about the surgery. He could have not had it done and just managed it again next year. But long term he is better off.”