Melbourne are expecting NRL defending champions Cronulla to be back to their damaging best when the Storm host a grand final replay at AAMI Park next Sunday.
While Melbourne are unbeaten after five rounds to sit on top of the NRL ladder, the Sharks have three wins after a lucky one-point escape against the lowly Knights on Saturday.
Storm skipper Cameron Smith insists last year’s heart-breaking 14-12 loss in the title decider won’t be driving his team forward this week.
With five new faces in the Storm starting line-up compared to their grand final team, Smith said it wasn’t about revenge for his players.
“We started the year undefeated and we’d like to keep it that way but I don’t think there’s any more incentive because we’re playing the Sharks,” Smith said.
“We don’t have the same team playing as there was in the grand final last year so we put that to bed fairly early in the pre-season last year.
“I would have love to have gone back and done a few things differently and held up that trophy but the Sharks will always be the premiers of 2016.”
Smith expected patchy Cronulla to lift for the match, as many teams did when they faced the benchmark side of the NRL.
“It’s going to be a huge game, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.
“It’s a grand final replay as people like to call it, but it doesn’t matter who we play, they always come and turn up against us and play their best footy and the Sharks will do that next week.”
Melbourne turned in a stunning second half defensive display to repel Penrith for a 28-6 win on Saturday night but their attack wasn’t firing on all cyclinders.
Smith wanted his team to improve their ball control.
“We’ve been pretty poor in the five games we’ve played this year,” he said.
“We’ve won our games off effort.
“If we get fair possession and some quality completion rates we might be able to make things a bit easier for ourselves.”