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Storm skipper Cameron Smith was one of three players in the side to back up from Origin II on Wednesday night.
Melbourne welcomed back its Origin players with open arms on Sunday, as all three played a starring role in the 46-20 win over Parramatta at AAMI Park.

Billy Slater took centre stage with two tries and two assists in a dominant return after a month out of the side through injury.

Cameron Smith (26 tackles) and Ryan Hoffman (101 metres) were also tireless just four days after Origin II.

It was a win vital for the Storm’s season and one that has seen them leapfrog the Eels into seventh spot on the NRL ladder.

After the win coach Craig Bellamy singled out the efforts of the trio to back up yet again from representative duty.

“The three Origin players were just outstanding today and we are just so grateful for the effort they put in for us after and Origin game,” said Bellamy.

“It was really good for Hoff to come back after winning an Origin series after he had been trying for such a long time.

“For Billy and Cam, they are such great competitors, they put Wednesday night behind them and came out and did their best for the Storm.

“They are a real credit to themselves, the Origin teams and us.”

On an afternoon where Slater joined Andrew Ettingshausen in third spot on the NRL’s all-time try scoring list, captain Cameron Smith also eclipsed Craig Fitzgibbon for the most goals kicked by a forward.

Having won eight straight Origin series it was a different feeling for Smith when he returned to club duty this week.

However the skipper indicated that now the result of the series was a foregone conclusion a sharper focus can be made on the purple jersey.

“I think now because New South Wales has won the series the focus shifts completely to the Storm, playing well here and doing the very best we can,” said Smith.

“I think [losing] you have a little bit more motivation to take something from the season and that is with the club.

“That’s the reason why we always want to back up for our club. It is a very important thing for us to come back and play well for our teammates, fans and sponsors.”

Melbourne will be grateful for some much needed recovery time before travelling to face St George Illawarra next Monday night.
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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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