Bellamy to make final call on Smith's fitness
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy will have the final say on whether his captain plays in Sunday's elimination final against Canterbury.
Cameron Smith has had the most talked-about ankle in rugby league this week as he battles to overcome a high ankle sprain in time to be fit for the sudden death clash.
He has removed the boot that was nursing his left foot but was not spotted at Storm training on Thursday.
Smith managed to play for the Storm just three days after suffering a similar injury during Origin I in what was a testament to the Maroons and Test skipper's resilience. However this time around the final call will be left to Bellamy.
"At the end of the day it will probably come down to me to be quite honest," Bellamy said.
"I know Cameron and how tough he is, how resilient he is, the pride he's got to go out there and the care he's got for his teammates.
"But I think he needs to make a common sense decision here as well and I'm pretty sure that if he doesn't think he can do the job he will put his hand up."
The premiership coach conceded the club would roll the dice if Smith fell just short of full fitness by Sunday.
"We'd probably play him if he was at about 85-90 [per cent]," he said.
"At the end of the day we can't put him out there if he can't do his job reasonably well. If he's just going to be a passenger well we will go with someone else.
"Hopefully by Saturday we will make that decision and see what happens from there."
Adding to the concern is the Storm's poor record against the Bulldogs, having lost in the past three meetings between the sides. The Bulldogs are also the only current NRL club to hold a winning head-to-head record over the Storm.
Canterbury took the chocolates from its last visit to AAMI Park, in what was a defensive 6-4 arm wrestle.
"That was a pretty top-class game…. It was like a semi-final come real early," Bellamy said.
"The quality of the defence from both sides was outstanding. I know speaking to our guys they said it was the most tired and sore they've felt after any game. I even ran into one of their players the next day in the street and he basically said the same."
Melbourne have found the Bulldogs' defence tough to break in recent times, scoring a combined total of just 16 points in those last three games.
However heading into Sunday's game Bellamy gave a cheeky hint that a surprise or two that could be heading Canterbury's way.
"They have had the wood on us this year so we will have to change a couple of things that might change the course of events in this game," said Bellamy.
"We've got a couple of things up our sleeve on how we are going to handle our attack so hopefully that will work okay for us."
The do-or-die game kicks off at 4.10pm on Sunday at AAMI Park.