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Melbourne Storm Captain Cameron Smith said his team will need to turn their defensive performance around ahead of their important clash with Cronulla on Saturday evening.

Melbourne currently sit seventh on the NRL table just two points outside the top four but also equal with four other sides in the mid-table logjam. After conceding just 34 points four matches between Round 18 and Round 21, Storm let in 32 points against the Knights in Newcastle, suffering their first loss since early July.

"It's very important (this weekend's clash with Cronulla), I think every game for the rest of this season is important, more so now given our spot on the ladder," Smith said.

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"We want to make sure our performance is a complete turnaround from last week. We were very disappointed with the result but more so the way we went about our football.

"We were very disappointed with those efforts (on Saturday against Newcastle, and again it was down to attitude really. 

"You look at the games where we have defended quite well, it's been against the sides that are in the top three at the moment.

"We need to fix our attitude when we are playing teams that aren't in the top three."

Smith also helped promote the NRL's Close the Gap Round, showing of Melbourne's special Indigenous jersey which will be worn this weekend against the Sharks.

"Close the Gap is making people aware of the gap between Indigenous and white Australians' health issues. All the players feel very strongly about that as well as all the staff in the NRL," Smith said.

"We have a lot of Indigenous people that are involved in the NRL, not only players but staff and volunteers as well. 

"They are a very important part of rugby league and the rugby league community. 

"As much awareness as we can create, that's very important to us."

Acknowledgement of Country

Melbourne Storm respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.