Melbourne prop Brett White admits the Warriors are the Storm’s bogy side but is confident the New Zealand team won’t stop their surge to repeat NRL titles in Sunday’s qualifying final.
On the back of three successive minor premierships, few sides have troubled the Storm but the Warriors can lay claim to a victory in round 20 and being one of only two teams to win at Olympic Park in the past three years.
“They’re a tough side to play against no matter what and they seem to be our bogy side,” White said.
“In 2006 leading into the finals we were in really good form and they came over here and beat us at home and earlier in the year they beat us.
“We’ve always had something to play for, the Michael Moore (the Melbourne football manager who died in a accident after their match in Auckland in 2000) trophy, so there’s always a little bit extra between the teams.”
But White said his team had been buoyed by their crushing 42-4 last round win over Souths which he rated as one of their best performances of the year.
“Especially coming off a loss in Newcastle where we just didn’t turn up and knowing that we wanted to right the wrongs of that, and having the 26 points to play for to win the minor premiership that was a pretty big incentive.
“This weekend we want to better that performance because we want our form to be good coming into the finals and that’s an important thing for us.”
If Melbourne win they will advance to a preliminary final to be held at the Telstra Dome on September 29 and the Warriors will be eliminated.
A battle royale is looming between White, his front row partner Jeff Lima, and the Warriors retiring veteran Ruben Wiki and fellow workhorse Steve Price, who White believes are a key to the visitors’ eight wins from their last 10 games.
“They’ve been really consistent and I think that’s led by their two blokes up front,” he said.
“Age is probably an advantage, especially in the front row.
“The older you are, the smarter you are and it’s a big thing to have knowledge and experience in the front row and they’re certainly two blokes who have a lot of that.”
Melbourne will finalise their line-up after a late training session tomorrow, giving tireless representative lock Dallas Johnson as much time as possible to prove his fitness.
If ruled out, Jeremy Smith is expected to move into the back row, Michael Crocker switch to lock and either Aiden Tolman or Scott Anderson come on to the bench.
Apart from suspended fullback Wade McKinnon, New Zealand coach Ivan Cleary has named a full strength line-up.