Melbourne Storm is facing a big question after Felise Kaufusi’s involvement in the dolphins

Following the news that gun baker Felise Kaufusi has become the latest Storm star to commit her future elsewhere, a question that has been posed to the multi-year powerhouse over and over again is back in the minds of experts.

Is Melbourne’s incredible dominance finally ready to be extinguished?

The Dolphins announced on Friday their acquisition of Kaufusi on a three-year deal from 2023, the year the NRL’s newest club will take to the field for the first time.

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It’s a huge early boost for the Dolphins’ roster and a massive loss for Storm, as Kaufusi is a representative of Test and State of Origin, who has become a dangerous, durable and reliable performer for Melbourne since his 2015 NRL debut.

It should be noted that Kaufusi’s commitment to the Redcliffe-based franchise could get Storm to improve their offer on the ingenious hooker Brandon Smith, who has a contract with Melbourne in 2022 but who has been allowed to test the market.

But whether or not Melbourne retain Smith – New Zealand’s test rake – their list will have lost more quality than achieved.

Among those who have already left the Storm during this low season are valued playmaker Nicho Hynes (Sharks), inspirational backrower Dale Finucane (Sharks) and prolific winger Josh Addo-Carr (Bulldogs).

Melbourne’s assurance of speedster Xavier Coates – who made his State of Origin debut with Queensland at the age of just 19 – has provided some compensation for their loss.

In one respect, Melbourne built itself into an even stronger force following the retirement of legendary captain and hooker Cameron Smith on the eve of the 2021 season.

Although they failed to defend their 2020 title this year as they fell 10-6 to the final premiere, Penrith in a preliminary final, they won 19 games in a row to match the 1975 record of the Eastern Suburbs.

But oddly enough, The Storm may have been better off with Brandon Smith and Harry Grant sharing the hooking role given the dramatic acceleration of the game, a result of the “six-again” rule introduced for ruck violations and repression of high contact.

With the exception of 2010, when Melbourne were stripped of their competition points and slammed with the wooden spoon due to having broken the pay ceiling, Storm has been playing final football every season since 2003.

Over the 19-year period, Craig Bellamy’s men have also had 14 top-four finishes, collected six minor premieres and won three major finals.

But whether Melbourne will remain a tumor in the years to come – despite the losses of Hynes, Finucane, Addo-Carr, Kaufusi and potentially Smith – remains to be seen.

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