MELBOURNE Sept 25 AAP – Skipper Cameron Smith has lashed out at critics of Melbourne’s playing style ahead of Saturday’s NRL preliminary final with North Queensland, labelling such attacks upon the Storm as “laughable”.
The Storm’s go-slow ‘wrestling’ tactics have again come under scrutiny following their qualifying final win over Sydney Roosters two weeks ago.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said he was surprised with what the Storm were allowed to get away with by the referees, and his Brisbane counterpart Wayne Bennett chimed in saying Melbourne’s approach to rugby league was boring.
But Smith was on the front foot on Friday as his team eyes off their sixth grand final appearance in 10 seasons, saying Melbourne make no apologies for the way they play.
“There is a lot of confidence within our squad at the moment and we have found a pretty good formula with our game plan and the way we are playing,” Smith said.
“A lot of people have labelled it quite boring, but I can assure you winning football matches isn’t boring. We are just confident on what we have built over the past four to six weeks.
“We have played some pretty good football teams in that time including these guys (the Cowboys) and we have had some good results and we are not going to go away from that too much.
“We are not going to go away and play a different game plan to make other people happy.”
Smith said it was criticism he has heard many times before.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all and the key word is renewed,” Smith said.
“It comes up every time around the same time of the year, so for us we haven’t focused on it at all. To me it is quite laughable.
“We haven’t changed our style of football all year but apparently it is an issue come finals time. I know the referees have a hard job to do but they have refereed the same way all season and that is all we can ask for in the finals. There is no doubt there have tried to be a few seeds planted in a few people’s (the referees’) minds. But the NRL has addressed it and they have no issue with the way we play.
“We always work hard on our defence and we are not going to change that tomorrow night.”
Marika Koroibete is set to be a late withdrawal for the Storm due to a leg injury. Young Tonumaipea will take his place on the wing.