Titans go to school on Storm stars
Gold Coast players are spending increased time this week studying up on the Storm's superstar playmakers so that they won't be caught out defensively when the two teams meet at AAMI Park on Sunday evening.
Confidence is high in the Titans camp after a first-up win against the Knights in Round 1 but they are by no means cocky as they head to a venue where they have tasted success just once (Round 5, 2014) in five previous visits.
The Storm's 'big three' of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater reunited on Monday night for the first time at club level since Round 10 last year and were integral in guiding their team to an 18-16 win over the Dragons.
Additional video sessions have been called this week on the Gold Coast so that players can study closely what makes the Storm trio so great and give themselves the best chance of defensively repelling whatever they happen to throw at them.
"Mentally with the Storm you've just got to be aware of where their key players are," said winger Anthony Don.
"They throw a lot of trick-shape and they've got really good sets of six so you've got to be on your game and you can't really switch off for any second because they'll take advantage of it with the big three players that they've got.
"We've got to prepare well and do our video, see what kind of plays they come up with and make sure we try and stop it on the weekend.
"You're trying to look and see what kind of shape that they play. Whether the halfback drifts across field and throws it out the back or whatever their normal plays are so in the match you can see the type of shape they're setting up and predict what they're going to do.
"It's about having a better understanding of what they're going to do in the game before you actually go down there and play them."
With co-captain William Zillman still troubled by a calf injury, David Mead has been named at fullback for the second week in a row and is preparing for a peppering from the kicking games of both Cronk and Smith.
In 2014 Cronk kicked wide twice for Sisa Waqa to score first half tries and then last year had a hand in three of the Storm's tries, putting Mead on red alert for what will be just his 18th game at fullback in the NRL.
"Melbourne are the type of side that you have got to watch a lot of video on," Mead said.
"Us outside backs watch a lot of video on what they do, where Cooper Cronk likes to kick and where Cameron Smith likes to kick. They're very good kickers and can put the ball pretty much anywhere they want so we do a lot of video during the week to make sure we have all bases covered.
"Sometimes [Cronk] is unpredictable but you've got to watch him and the winger communicating because he is good for putting that kick over the top and the winger scoring in the corner on third or fourth tackle.
"Stuff like that you've got to watch out for. He's got us a couple of times so we'll make sure we're aware of that."
David Shillington has played the Storm on 15 occasions in his career to date with the Roosters and Raiders and said the positioning of Billy Slater can be a tell-tale sign of where Melbourne will attack next.
"They've got some big players there like Slater who are big indicators on which side of the ruck they're going to run," said Shillington. "Wherever he's floating around we know to have eyes up and ready for them to come that way.
"Obviously other players like Cronk and Smith, we've always got to have our eyes on them and be wary of what they're going to do."