Pressure is on Dragons: Storm skipper - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Pressure is on Dragons: Storm skipper

By Melissa Woods 09/03/2009 03:10:37 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne captain Cameron Smith has turned the heat on Wayne Bennett's St George Illawarra team, suggesting they'll feel extra pressure in Friday's NRL season opener.

Smith claimed the arrival of esteemed coach Bennett and several big name recruits meant the Dragons faced a new level of expectation in the Olympic Park match.

He also hinted they might be their own worst enemy as they sought to impress Bennett.

"Definitely. Everyone in the competition will be after a first round win and particularly St George with a new coach," said Smith on Monday.

"He'll have a lot of expectation about them, I think more so after the last game they played in the Charity Shield (lost 18-6 to South Sydney). He would have been disappointed with the outcome.

"A lot has been said about the recruitment to their club and the new coach so I think there might be a bit of pressure on them, so that benefits us I think."

But Smith was also wary of the huge positive influence Bennett could wield, having begun his Queensland Origin career under the man who guided the Brisbane Broncos to six premierships.

"As everyone well knows he's a great coach," said Smith.

"It doesn't matter what team he's with they always perform well so we're aware that they're going to be a very well-drilled team this year.

"You just have to look at the Broncos, they're a very professional outfit. They were never a team that you associate with fighting or any of those little things that can hurt teams in games."

St George Illawarra have previously been criticised as under-achievers and soft, although that could change with former Storm enforcer Jeremy Smith tough former Raiders forwards Neville Costigan and Michael Weyman and ex-Panthers hooker Luke Priddis now in their ranks.

But Smith said soft wasn't his experience of the Dragons.

"Especially when they play us it's always been a very physical game," Smith said.

"Possibly because there's a lot of history between the two clubs and both teams never hold back when they play each other, they've never been too soft with us."

The last time the two sides met Dragons prop Jason Ryles was marched while three others, including two Storm players, were sin-binned following an all-in brawl.

Then coach Nathan Brown caused controversy later by revealing he'd told his players to "fight fire with fire" in response to their alleged illegal tactics.

Smith didn't expect any similar stuff on Friday.

"I don't think that will be a problem for them this year," he said.

"We're expecting them to be very physical but I don't think it will go as far as what it did last year."

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