Let's get physical, declare Storm - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Let's get physical, declare Storm

Melissa Woods and David Beniuk 10/09/2011 06:40:14 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne have a message for Newcastle if they want to get physical in their NRL qualifying final - bring it on.

Ahead of the AAMI Park match on Sunday afternoon, Knights coach Rick Stone said the Storm's round 25 loss to Manly showed that physically pressuring the minor premiers was a way to take them down.

Melbourne football manager Frank Ponissi said the Storm would welcome a change to the Knights' usual game-plan.

"I hopethey change their game because that would play right into our hands," he said.

"Their strength is that they're an expansive team that likes to throw the ball around, so that's going to take away from their strength.

"That's a bonus for us."

Rival sides may have suspected that Melbourne's pack of journeymen could find itself under the pump at finals time, and two straight losses in the final two rounds will have done little to dispel that belief.

Ponissi said the Storm were below par against a hungry Manly side at Brookvale Oval, adamant their run of 12 successive wins said more about their ability than the 18-4 loss.

"If people like to hang their hat off the Manly game they're entitled to it," he said.

"If Newcastle change their game-plan because of that one game, then good luck to them.

"They've got themselves to the final being a terrific attacking team so I don't think they'll change too much."

Melbourne are on red alert for Newcastle's in-form right side of Dally M winger of the year Akuila Uate and veteran centre Adam MacDougall, who could play his last game on Sunday.

"The less ball they can give Uate the better and MacDougall's playing every game like it's his last," Ponissi said.

"That side of the field is dangerous with those two, so if they decide to keep the ball away from that side and go down the middle we'll be ready for them and pretty happy."

Massive favourites Melbourne would earn a week off with a victory and end the Knights' season, coach Rick Stone's last in charge before he becomes an assistant to Wayne Bennett.

"We've probably spent most of our time since I've been head coach here as underdogs," Stone said.

"I suppose we're used to it and we're pretty comfortable with it and it doesn't faze us too much.

"We've got some good strong belief in our own squad."

Storm five-eighth Maurice Blair, who is already replacing the injured Gareth Widdop, needs to pass a fitness test on his injured hamstring and Ponissi said utility Rory Kostjasyn or "one or two other surprises" were the back-up options.

Newcastle welcome back Kiwi international centre Junior Sa'u, who missed the last two games of the regular season with an ankle injury.

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