NSW Origin and Storm second-rower Ryan Hoffman has revealed how a post-Origin powwow with the team's senior players and coaching staff has turned Melbourne's season around.
With Melbourne faced with the unfamiliar predicament of fighting for their spot in the top eight when the club's Origin quintet returned from representative duty, Hoffman said the leadership group met with the coaching staff to re-assess their approach to the back half of the season.
"We got together, along with the coaching staff as well actually, and just got some systems in place. We've got a few mentalities in place [now]. We just needed to simplify what we wanted to achieve and how we went about it and that's what we've done," he said after their 24-10 triumph in Penrith.
The Storm went two wins, three losses during another busy Origin period where they were again without key men Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk, Will Chambers and Hoffman.
Heavy defeats to North Queensland and the Roosters had the perennial heavyweights, for the first time in a long time, on the outside looking in.
"We're in a different situation. A lot of previous years we've been sitting alright in the top four and we've been going quite well. But this year we're having to build our form at the right time," Hoffman said.
"We need to keep going, we're not there yet. But look, it's a new experience for us, trying to fight back into that four, but it's a challenge we're looking forward to."
Coach Craig Bellamy praised his team's elder statesmen for driving their late-season rally, and believed they could find another gear as the finals approaches.
"I think moreso this year we try and get a little bit more out of each other," he said.
"I must say, I have to give our leaders a real wrap. Since Origin they've taken big hold of what we're doing and have been really pushing what we need to do and how we need to do it.
"Not that they [don't] always take an interest in that. They always do a good job. [But] because we've been a little bit inconsistent during the season, they've really taken a hold since Origin.
"They're really driving strongly and I think that's been the main reason that we're defending a lot better than what we were earlier in the season. A lot more consistency.
"I was real happy with them there at the end when we had five sets on [Penrith's] line. They ended up scoring in the end, but I think that's change of attitude has come because the leaders are really pushing some things that are really important to our game."