Ryan Hinchcliffe knows how important the Storm's Round 18 clash with the Bulldogs is in the context of his side's season.

Hinchcliffe ready if Smith pulls out for Storm

They will be praying it doesn't happen, but if necessary veteran Ryan Hinchcliffe is preparing to start at hooker for Melbourne this week.

Storm skipper Cameron Smith remains a 50-50 chance to be fit for Sunday's Elimination final against the Bulldogs after suffering a high ankle sprain in last week's win over the Broncos.

Smith is currently on crutches and wearing a boot over his left ankle.

He suffered a similar injury in Origin I and was initially ruled out for 1-2 weeks before making a stunning return to the Storm line-up that same weekend.

The Maroons and Kangaroos skipper will need to summon those very same healing powers if he is any chance to take the field on the weekend. However if he fails to do so there is a 29-year-old understudy waiting in the wings.

"I will be spending most of the week there [at hooker] and Cam will have to see how he's going and we'll go from there," said Hinchcliffe.

"He is still on crutches at the moment and he's been getting treatment from our physios but we won't know how he'll be until he gets off the crutches and puts some weight on it."

Smith also missed the Storm's meeting with the Bulldogs in Round 4, when they were beaten 40-12 in what was their heaviest defeat of the season.

Hinchcliffe filled in at hooker that day and is comfortable to wear the No.9 again if required.

"I quite enjoy it but obviously I get limited opportunity with Cameron Smith, the best player in the game, at our club," said Hinchcliffe.

"But it is a new challenge and something I enjoy. I played a fair bit there when I was younger and if Cameron doesn't play I am more than happy to fill in and confident in my own ability."

Melbourne will be looking to overturn the horror end to their season 12 months ago when they bowed out of the finals in straight sets.

This time around the Victorians appear to be playing their best football at the business end, winning six of their last eight games.

It is a run the Storm are looking to take confidence out of heading into their sudden-death meeting with the Bulldogs.

"Although last year was very disappointing with the way we performed in those last few weeks and the way we went out, we are in some reasonable form at the moment," said Hinchcliffe.

"This weekend is a do or die match so for us we need to make sure we turn up with the right attitude and give it our all.

"It is very exciting, you play all year to be in this position and now we get the opportunity."

Melbourne will take on the Bulldogs at 4.10pm on Sunday at AAMI Park.