Storm not taking Titans lightly: Hoffman - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storm not taking Titans lightly: Hoffman

By Melissa Woods 03/04/2009 06:14:29 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne aren't taking the Titans lightly despite racking up almost a century of points in their last two NRL meetings.

The Storm appear to have the wood on the Gold Coast, who they host at Olympic Park on Saturday night in round five.

They have crushed the Titans 44-4 and 50-6 in their last two visits to Melbourne, although they aren't alone with the Gold Coast only winning only three of their past 13 away matches.

And if the challenge of beating the Storm on home turf wasn't already large enough, the Titans will be without injured skipper Scott Prince.

Regardless, Storm forward Ryan Hoffman said his side was wary of the Titans, who beat the Bulldogs last round playing without Prince.

"Whatever we've done previously means absolutely nothing this year," Hoffman said.

"That's the last thing on our minds and I'm sure it's the last thing on the Titans' mind.

"This is 2009 and they've got a new team and they've got some quality players and have had some good performances."

Live-wire Preston Campbell proved an admirable replacement for Prince in their 20-12 win and has been handed the halfback jersey again.

"They've proven they can win without Prince so we're definitely not taking them lightly," Hoffman said.

And bullish Titans coach John Cartwright confirmed Hoffman's opinion when asked about his team's recent record against the Storm.

"This is a new year - they've changed a lot of players, we've changed a lot of players," he said.

"We're only three games in, we're equal on the competition ladder, and it hasn't even been spoken about.

"They've only lost three in the last three years, so consistently they're the best side at their home track.

"It's a huge challenge but I'm happy with the way we've been going to confront it."

The Storm have been boosted by reserve hooker Ryan Hinchcliffe's clearance to play, after a head knock.

That allows the grand finalists' to continue their experiment of starting regular hooker Cameron Smith at five-eighth to give game-breaker Greg Inglis more room to move in the centres.

But Cartwright says he's not concerned where Melbourne play Inglis and Smith.

"I'm sure at some stage Smith will be playing hooker and at No.6, so I'm not real fussed," he said.

Hoffman wasn't about to divulge his team's game-plan but given its success in Melbourne's 26-12 win over the Cowboys, coach Craig Bellamy is sure to make the switch at some time against the Titans.

Representative forwards Brett White (feet) and Sika Manu (hamstring) will again miss the match as their battles with injuries continue.

Hoffman said while it was frustrating for those two players, it had provided opportunities for others.

"We've got two young guys in Scott Anderson and Aiden Tolman and those front-rowers were probably our stand-outs last week.

"They aren't the biggest front-rowers but they put in a great performance against a very big North Queensland forward pack."

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