Smith will play: Hasler
There have been coin-flippers who have had more confidence than those who rate Cameron Smith's chances of running out for his team's elimination final on Sunday.
Storm halfback Cooper Cronk said he thought his skipper was a 50-50 chance, although he didn't like the sight of him on crutches, which gives the doomsdayers enough doubt of a Smith-less Storm side taking the field.
But, for the record, the national captain was named by coach Craig Bellamy on Tuesday night, which was enough for his counterpart at the Bulldogs to believe the doubt is all a rouse.
"He's a tough, tough player. He's had an injury like this before and he played Origin. I think it was the third one and he came out and got Man of the Match. He'll play," Canterbury coach Des Hasler guaranteed on Wednesday morning.
Asked whether there was enough doubt for the Bulldogs to target that tentative ankle, Hasler responded with a flat: "No. What's the point? There's 16 others."
Hasler, of course, would know.
His fourth-placed side was one of just four teams to return from the southern capital with a valuable two points this season. The Bulldogs out-defended the Storm 6-4 back in Round 18, keeping them scoreless on their own home ground for the final hour of the match.
And considering the Melbournians had lost just six of their previous 29 games at home, it was as impressive a win as they come.
"It was," Hasler agreed. "But that was at a different stage, [under] different circumstances. I think Origin had just finished. Let's be honest, it's do or die and that's the way both sides will play."
Speaking of honesty, the cold, hard truth of the Belmore-based side right now is that since they skipped off that plane from Victoria in mid-July, they've won just two of eight.
And one of those losses was an ugly 19-18 golden point loss on the Gold Coast, where Hasler's side looked like they hadn't come out of the sheds after half-time.
"Obviously you're talking about the Titans loss?" he asked rhetorically.
"I think you've got to understand that when semi finals come around, it's a different competition. Read what you want to into the Titans loss. Obviously you think we've lost confidence. I disagree.
"It's pretty simple. Nine from 14 (sets) is just not acceptable in any game. If we go down to Melbourne expecting we can play a game like that then it will be a long afternoon.
"Melbourne will play a very controlled football game in semi-finals. They will complete really well. We need to be up to that and we need to match that."
And the two-time premiership-winning coach has every confidence they will. They haven't done it in about two months, but they've done it twice against Melbourne this season, once against Manly, and seven times during a successful stretch from March through to May.
"One thing I will give this Canterbury side credit for is that they can apply themselves to big matches," he said.
"It's a different level of football in a different competition and we need to be across those things.
"The fact that we're there into the final eight and that we've worked pretty hard throughout the year [is why I'm confident].
"And we've played some good spells of football throughout the year and a lot of them have played in finals football."