Storm need to watch Watmough: Hoffman - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storm need to watch Watmough: Hoffman

By Melissa Woods 08/09/2009 06:59:56 PM Comments (0)

Manly forward Anthony Watmough has been singled out as the player for the Storm to stop to win Friday night's NRL qualifying final in Melbourne.

In a mouth-watering starter for the 2009 finals series, the teams who have fought out the past two grand finals square off at Etihad Stadium.

Both have overcome some personnel changes and off-field dramas to finish fourth and fifth on the NRL ladder.

Storm backrower Ryan Hoffman said the NSW Origin enforcer Watmough was the best in the business and a player Melbourne needed to shut down.

"He's probably the best forward in the competition at the moment. What he has done in the past couple of weeks and what he's done in Origin signified that," Hoffman said on Tuesday.

"He's probably their player that we're going to have to keep the most eye on, he really builds their enthusiasm and momentum with the way he runs.

"He's always around the ball and he's a very enthusiastic character so we're going to have to get plenty of numbers around him to halt his effectiveness."

Hoffman, who missed most of last year's finals series after succumbing to an ankle injury, said his team set a pre-season goal to finish in the top four, and now that they had achieved that, felt capable of going all the way.

"We've had to work really hard for to finish top four," he said.

"It's an exciting finals series because there's no clear standout.

"We're happy to be in the semis. What been done over the previous years has been done by a different team with different players so we're excited by what we can achieve this year with this group of players."

The Storm elected to move the match away from Olympic Park, known as The Graveyard because of their outstanding win-loss record there. However Hoffman didn't believe they would lose their home advantage.

"There's probably only one or two of our team who haven't played there," he said.

"It's a big game stadium and it doesn't get much bigger than first round of the finals, four versus five."

More than 5,000 tickets have been sold so far with the Storm hoping for a crowd of about 30,000.

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