Storm halfback Cooper Cronk says he expects his side to lift and be a finals contender yet again this season. Credit: Ian Knight. Copyright: NRL Photos.
Are the Melbourne Storm still a premiership threat?
"Absolutely," says Cooper Cronk.
The star halfback firmly believes his side is well in the premiership mix despite clinging to eighth position on the ladder.
The Storm are on a run of back-to-back defeats for the fourth time this season.
It is the first time in four years the Victorian club has lost eight games in a home-and-away season.
Saturday's match against 15th-placed Canberra looms as a must win for Melbourne who are at risk of missing the finals for just the second time since coach Craig Bellamy took charge in 2003.
The Storm find themselves well within the finals rat race tied with five other clubs on 20 premiership points.
Cronk says standards need to lift across the board in order to assure the club plays finals football for the 11th time in 12 years.
"This club does not settle for mediocrity," said Cronk.
"We need to work hard and continue to work hard to be the best football club we can be.
"Something needs to click, there is no doubt about that… This football club, from the coach down to the senior players to the rookies, need to apply themselves more than they have been.
"Everyone lifts weights, everyone trains to the same standards but it is how you do it that makes you different to the opposition.
"In terms of an overall approach we need to shake things up a bit and click and get into the Melbourne Storm mode of football."
Cronk made his return last Saturday night after almost two months out of the Melbourne side.
The Maroons and Kangaroo halfback missed a total of six games for Melbourne after being sidelined with a broken arm suffered just 10 minutes into Origin I.
The 30-year-old made a surprise return eight weeks later to steer the Maroons to a Game Three victory.
Hours before last week's final Origin Bellamy admitted he would have preferred his prized halfback sit the game out, but Cronk says that thought never crossed his mind.
"Twenty minutes after the first Origin game when I knew I wasn't right for Game Two and there was a slight chance I was going to be right for Game Three, I was doing to everything in my power to play that game," said Cronk.
"I hold the jersey in high regard and I treasure every moment I get to represent the Queensland people.
"We are paid professional footballers and your job is to get right for each and every game possible. I love representing Queensland, I hold it in high regard so I was doing everything possible to get ready."
The reigning Dally M Medalist is arguably the most valuable player in the competition.
His statline reads 14 try assists and 12 line break assists from just 10 NRL games this season.
Despite missing six games Cronk also ranks in the top 10 for total kick metres in the competition.
The Storm will be desperate to have their No.7 back to full fitness for the all-important finish to the home-and-away season, a goal he is certain he can deliver on.
"This year I played one (Origin) game and 10 minutes. I have been here recuperating and had some time off so I'm fine," said Cronk.
"I don't see any issue going forward."
Cronk will be in action this Saturday night at 5.30pm when the Storm host the Raiders at AAMI Park.