Ryan Hoffman says the Storm will get up in the face of Penrith kicker Jamie Soward in order to make life easier for Melbourne's back three. Copyright: Robb Cox / NRL Photos.

Storm to pressure Soward: Hoffman

It has been one good news story after another for Melbourne this week and forward Ryan Hoffman says the club is looking to add to the tale against Penrith on Saturday.

Newly re-signed captain Cameron Smith will become the club’s games record holder (with 263 games) while star fullback Billy Slater will become just the third Storm player in history to reach 250 games.

Still riding high from last week’s thrilling comeback win against Manly, Hoffman says the side is committed to capping of a memorable week in a winning fashion.

"It is a big day for the club, a big occasion," said Hoffman.

"The best way we can pay tribute to those big occasions is doing what we know we do best for the Melbourne Storm."

And one of those things it will need to do is prepare for a Panthers side that is vastly different from the one Melbourne encountered in last year’s Round 9 defeat.

The most significant change to the mountain men has been in the halves. Peter Wallace and Jamie Soward bring with them not only a combined 323 games of NRL experience but a poise, composure and creativity the Penrith line-up has severely lacked in recent years.

"We’ve done all our preparation based on what they’ve done in their trials and what they’ve done last week," Hoffman said.

"Guys like Wallace and Soward just play off the back of their forwards and they’ve got too much skill out wide to not capitalize of the chances those guys are making."

Soward’s kicking game was back to its best last week against Newcastle. Penrith travelled more than 500 metres by the boot, the most of any side in Round 1.

It is a threat Melbourne is acutely aware of heading into tonight’s game.

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"It’s a great strength of his and we know we are going to have to work very hard to put pressure on him," Hoffman said.

"If you give a player like him time to pinpoint his kicks he is going to make life very hard for Bill.

"We’ve got to make sure we are making life easier for our back three."

However the Storm has its own inclusion at No.7 this week that poses an even great threat for Penrith, with Dally M medallist Cooper Cronk returning after overcoming off-season shoulder surgery.

Cronk’s influence on the home side's play is hugely significant, recording 25 try assists (third in the NRL) and ranking in the top five for line breaks across the competition last season.

"We are certainly under no illusions just how important he is for our team," Hoffman said.

"It was great to get a win last week without him… but to have someone of his calibre back in the team is great.

"He’s been training very hard and strongly so he is as excited as we are to get out there tomorrow."

Despite Soward’s mid-season departure to the UK last year, both he and Cronk averaged more than 340 kicking metres per game, which sets up the contest in the halves as a real mouth-watering proposition.