They’re facing the only undefeated team left in the competition, and have lost just once to Cronulla in 11 matches, but Melbourne still hold no fears for the Sharks.
While the Storm haven’t surprised many by surging to three straight wins, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan believes they are still a tier below title favourites Brisbane and North Queensland.
The Sharks mentor reckons that says more about the epic grand final rematch between the two Queensland teams than it does about the club south of the Murray river.
“I thought the Cowboys and Broncos just showed how good they’re going at the moment, and I think everyone else is chasing them,” Flanagan told AAP.
But that doesn’t mean he believes the Storm don’t deserve top spot on merit.
“The Storm have just shown how professional they are. I don’t think they’ve played great, they’ve just got three wins by being professional and nutted out three wins,” he said.
“And that’s what we expect of the Storm. We need to put them under a bit of pressure and at home, I’d like to think – and I know we’re favourites by the bookies – we can get the job done.”
Flanagan confirmed centre Jack Bird would be a certain starter after failing to finish last week’s defeat to Manly due to concussion in what is an unchanged line-up.
For the Storm, coach Craig Bellamy has also kept the same 17 that edged the Warriors on the road last week, although Tohu Harris has been switched into the centres with Kenny Bromwich in the back row.
A win for the Storm would give them four wins to start a season for the fifth time since 2007.
STATS THAT MATTER
* Melbourne have won their past five games against Cronulla, the last four by at least 18 points.
* Cronulla have never scored more than 20 points in all 11 meetings with the Storm, but have scored at least 28 points in their past four wins at home.
* Sharks halfback Chad Townsend has been involved in six of the Sharks’ seven line breaks this season – the best rate of any player in the NRL.