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Cameron Smith upbeat about Storm's form

By Melissa Woods 22/09/2009 04:04:18 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith has declared the Storm are in better shape than in the last three years, when they have reached the NRL grand final.

And they intend letting Brisbane know that from the kick-off in their preliminary final on Saturday night, with Melbourne determined to get off to a fast start.

The Storm can secure a fourth successive grand final berth with victory over the Broncos at Etihad Stadium, with the winner to face either Parramatta or the Bulldogs.

After training on Tuesday, where coach Craig Bellamy turned up the pressure on his players with a blistering spray after some defensive lapses, Smith said his team was primed for a big game.

"I think form-wise we've been a lot better than in the past," he said.

"I think we've been able to string a few good games together and have scored a lot of points whereas in the past there's probably been a lot more tougher run into the final, a bit more hard-fought wins for us."

However the Test hooker said he didn't think that build-up would impact on the game, nor his side's week off while Brisbane played a physical semi-final against St George Illawarra.

"It's going to be whoever wants it the most, whoever's willing to work hardest for the 80 minutes to win the match," Smith said.

"The Broncos are a side that's done that for the past 18 years ... they know what it's all about, their coach knows what it's all about so they'll be firing on Saturday."

Melbourne intend on giving Brisbane a taste of their own medicine by applying a lot of early pressure.

Smith believed the Broncos set up their 24-10 win over the Dragons by getting out of the blocks quickly.

"We've had a bit of a chat about that," Smith said.

"We fell into the trap a couple of times when we've had the weeks off when we've started a little bit slow and had to claw our way back.

"Looking at the Broncos match against St George, I think that's how they set themselves up for a win, they started strongly and really held on to the lead and grinded out a good win.

"If we're any chance of winning this match we have to start strongly because you give guys like Darren Lockyer and Karmichael Hunt and Justin Hodges and (Israel) Folau, you give them any head-start, they're hard to peg back.

"That's a real focus for us, to start well."

The Broncos have named utility Alex Glenn to replace injured halfback Peter Wallace.

Smith said regardless of who wore the No.7 jersey, Brisbane captain Lockyer would be calling the shots.

"When you've got a guy like Darren Lockyer in your side, he just takes over that role ... he can do that at the drop of a hat.

"I guess it's little bit of a disruption for them but last year when I came out of the side we had a young bloke step in and we ended up winning the preliminary final and going into the grand final.

"We're not taking the Broncos any more lightly because their No.7's out."

Meanwhile, prop Scott Anderson has been recalled to the Melbourne squad after missing the past month with a hamstring injury.

Anderson performed strongly in the Storm's feeder side, Central Coast Storm, during their NSW Cup semi-final on Sunday.

Coach Craig Bellamy named an 18-man squad, with veterans Wairangi Koopu or Ryan Tandy likely to make way should Anderson make the final cut.

There are no other changes to the side which crushed Manly 40-12 in the qualifying final two weeks ago.

Melbourne: Billy Slater, Steve Turner, Will Chambers, Greg Inglis, Dane Nielsen, Brett Finch, Cooper Cronk, Aiden Tolman, Cameron Smith (capt), Brett White, Adam Blair, Ryan Hoffman, Dallas Johnson. Interchange: Ryan Hinchcliffe, Jeff Lima, Ryan Tandy, Wairangi Koopu, Scott Anderson (one to be omitted).

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