Storm prepared for aggressive Sharks
Melbourne is determined stand up to the Sharks’ aggressive style of play during Saturday night’s blockbuster at AAMI Park.
Cronulla will come to town looking to impose their in-your-face approach on Storm and the men in purple are ready for what will come their way.
Shane Flanagan’s side is not afraid to walk a fine line, currently ranked as the second most penalised team in the competition.
Their approach clearly works though, having produced 17 wins in 2016, their best in a single season since 2008.
After being defeated at Shark Park 14-6 back in Round 4, Storm will pay close attention to their lessons learned from that game.
“They played a really aggressive style of footy that night, they really got stuck into us. I don’t expect too much different Saturday night to be honest,” Smith said.
“It really comes down to the way we handle their physicality and their aggression. I don’t think we handled it very well last time we played them.
“These guys are very good at being aggressive and trying to put you off your game, we just can’t allow that to happen.
“We’ve just got to stick to our game plan and whatever happens we just need to carry that game out.”
While the rivalry has been building between these two sides throughout the season, a certain match up will add another chapter to its storied history on Saturday night.
With Michael Ennis set to retire at season’s end, this game could be the last time Cameron Smith comes up against his NSW counterpart.
The two hookers have battled it out at both Club and Origin level for much of the past 14 years, a challenge which the Storm skipper has greatly enjoyed.
“Mick and I have had a fair rivalry for quite a while now,” Smith said.
“He has played several games in State of Origin against me. It could be the last time we play each other, who knows how it will play out but he is a fantastic player.”
“He is one of the bigger competitors in the competition on the field, he wants to win every battle he is involved in, whether he’s got the ball or whether he doesn’t.
“He does enjoy getting under the opposition’s skin but that is something we can’t allow to affect us this weekend. There is no doubt he will be up to his scheming best but he has been a very good player for a long time now, particularly the last two or three seasons.
“He is just one of many of their players who will pose a threat to us this week.”