Cameron Smith's late exit from the Storm's lineup on the weekend played havoc with thousands of Holden NRL Fantasy teams. Copyright: Charles Knight/NRL Photos.

Storm 'not mentally tough': Smith

The Melbourne Storm is not mentally tough - that is the blunt assessment of captain Cameron Smith.

With just one win from its past four matches, the Storm find themselves outside the top eight with a pedestrian 4-3 record. It is unfamiliar territory for a club that have built themselves into perennial finals contenders.

But this is a Storm side that, until this point in the season, looks as if it simply ain’t what it used to be.

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It currently has the second worst defence in the NRL, conceding 25 points per game. The stat is staggering when you consider Melbourne has ranked in the top two for fewest points conceded in every season since 2004.

The defensive frailties have been spoken about like a broken record in the past month but for the captain the problems go much deeper.

“We’re scoring plenty of points… but we are just conceding too many. That is due to being mentally tough and at the moment we are not,” Smith said.

“We need to be mentally tougher than what we are when we are in defence, teams are just coming down our end and scoring too easily ... we need to show a bit more commitment to our defence I believe.

“At the moment you can say we are quite embarrassed by our defensive efforts.”

In years gone by there is no way Raiders prop Paul Vaughan would have found a way through the Storm line to score in the dying moments, as happened in last week’s 22-24 loss.

However, the Victorian side must quickly regroup for their Anzac Day clash with New Zealand on Friday. With more than 23,000 tickets already sold for the 6pm showpiece at AAMI Park the atmosphere is set to be electric, which may awaken the home side from its current slump.

“I think it is a great tester for us,” Smith said.

“Given the occasion being an Anzac Day game it is going to be a huge match, particularly for our young guys who haven’t played in front of a big crowd like this before and in such a big game it is going to be a huge test.

“We need it, we definitely need it because we are letting ourselves down with the way we are playing, so hopefully this can kick us off a bit.”