Melbourne’s three wins this season have come in a physical, hard-fought manner and Monday night’s clash against Cronulla will be no exception.
For the second straight week Craig Bellamy’s men will head on the road, this time to the Shire, a place they have travelled just once since 2012.
That trip came last year and ended in memorable fashion courtesy of a 30-2 win. However with the Sharks making some key off-season signings the return trip presents a very different proposition.
On paper the Sharks are one of the strongest side’s in the competition and while the game is not planned that way, it has given the Storm coach plenty to ponder.
“I think they are up there, they bought really well this year bringing in two halves in Maloney and Townsend,” Bellamy said.
“Barba seems to have found a bit more of his zip this year and they have a good, young player in Jack Bird.
“Their strength has always been their forwards and I think that is still the case but they have built up their outside backs this year. They’ve been a good team for a couple of years now but the way they’ve strengthened their team for this year I think they are going to be right up there.”
Bird has been named to play after having his game cut short against Manly due to concussion, while it appears Paul Gallen will be given one more week to recover from a knee injury sustained in Round 1.
Melbourne holds a strong record against the Sharks, having won nine of the past 10 meetings between the two sides.
That stat is likely to warm purple hearts but the coach has warned those numbers can be deceiving.
“They’ve been a tough side for a few years now and you always know you’re playing a game of footy when you’re playing against them,” Bellamy said.
“It will be a tough game, especially up there at Shark Park… it will be a tough test for our guys.
“We are not quite playing as well as we’d probably like in some areas but we’ve played really tough in critical games which has been good for us.”