The Melbourne Storm are hoping a lack of mental toughness will be a thing of the past when it comes time to kick off the 2015 season.
The club's approach to the contest between the ears has been something coach Craig Bellamy was desperate to improve on during this pre-season.
Mental lapses during crucial moments cost Melbourne last season and were a factor in the team ending their campaign without a finals win for the second straight year.
Storm skipper Cameron Smith revealed the players were left no choice but to sharpen that focus this summer.
"Craig pointed out that our mental toughness wasn't really up to scratch so he really has tested the boys this pre-season with a lot of the running and a lot of the work," Smith said.
"Last year we were just inconsistent and that was just down to guys' attitudes towards their footy.
"When it got tough we looked for shortcuts and easy ways to score points but that's not how you play our game, you need to stick in there mentally and stay in the game.
"I've spoken to a few of the guys about the last three months and they've said it is one of the tougher pre-seasons we've had in a long time."
Smith was speaking on Tuesday from the Broadmeadows Valley Primary School as apart of the NRL Community Carnival that will see the club visit 44 schools across Melbourne and regional Victoria.
For the first time in 14 years the champion hooker has endured a limited pre-season after undergoing ankle surgery in early December.
The initial diagnosis was listed at 14 weeks, ruling the 31-year-old out of the club's season opener against the Dragons on March 9.
While Smith is doing everything possible to be fit for Round 1 he admits the timeline of recovery is largely out of his hands.
"I'd love to be there [for Round 1] but it was made fairly clear to me when I was going in for surgery that the medical staff and the coaches are not going to rush me back," Smith said.
"It's been frustrating, I've probably ridden the Tour de France circuit three or four times on the bike so I'm a pretty good bike rider at the moment.
"I have done a couple of running sessions but nothing too hectic and I haven't trained with the team yet.
"At this stage things are going quite well and there haven't been any hiccups. We are on schedule at the moment."
Melbourne will hold a joint-training session with Canterbury that is open to the public at 6pm on Wednesday at Gosch's Paddock before the two teams play their final trial game of the season this Saturday at AAMI Park.
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