Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith says there’s no stopping Sharks enforcer Andrew Fifita.
So all the Storm can plan to do in Sunday’s grand final at ANZ Stadium is limit his damage.
Fifita was at his fighting best in the Sharks’ preliminary final win over North Queensland last Friday night.
He was narrowly second in his team’s all run metres for the match, and has averaged 3.2 offloads per game this season, prompting Test great Darren Lockyer to name him as the grand final game-breaker.
With his ability to draw defenders, Lockyer said Fifita would test the Storm’s very structured defence.
Smith agreed that Fifita would likely be a handful.
“I think for players like that, it’s not about trying to take them out of the game it’s about trying to minimise the impact that they have,” Smith said.
“You’re never going to be able to take a good footballer, the quality of Fifita, out of the game.”
Smith said while his team would study footage of Fifita, it was hard to fine-tune preparation for the polarising prop.
“It’s hard to prepare to play against Andrew because he is quite unpredictable in what he’s going to do,” Smith said.
“He’s a big guy, he’s got great skill for a big man and he’s got great feet.
“That’s what makes him so good; he’s got a lot of tricks up his sleeve.”
Sunday’s decider has a State of Origin flavour with Smith the Queensland skipper and Cronulla captain Paul Gallen the NSW leader.
Melbourne’s Cooper Cronk and Will Chambers are also current Maroons while Cronulla’s Fifita, James Maloney, Wade Graham and Jack Bird all played for NSW in the last Origin clash.
While Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has implored fans in NSW to get behind his team, Smith wasn’t buying the Origin angle.
“It’s Melbourne and Victoria, they’re not part of Origin,” Smith said.
“For us it’s a grand final and State of Origin is a different beast to the premiership.
“It’s not a state versus state thing, it’s a team thing.”