Storm must build on minor premiership
Following the Storm's 26-6 win over Cronulla that brought the JJ Giltinan Shield to Melbourne, Craig Bellamy said that while this achievement means a lot to his side, he's aware it doesn't give them any advantages when the finals begin next weekend.
Bellamy's men lost just five games all season en route to their first placed finish, and the coach said the trophy meant even more to his squad had been hit with injuries in the first half of the year.
"[The minor premiership] means a fair bit actually. It's a symbol that you've been the best team in this competition for seven months, but it doesn't mean you'll be the best for the next month, but to finish at the top of the heap in this competition is not easy to do," Bellamy said.
"It's a tough competition and it's a tough game every week, and I think the thing that probably means a little bit more to me this year is what we've gone through to get there.
"I can't remember the last time we had an injury run like we had this year. We had a lot of outside backs early in the season then a bit later we lost a few of our bigger guys… so we've been through a little bit of adversity with injuries, but no one's given up or lost faith.
"We just gritted our teeth and got on with it, so I think to me that probably means a little bit more that we are the minor premiers."
The Storm flexed their muscles against the Sharks in the showdown of the top two sides and showcased their defensive prowess yet again, restricting Cronulla to just one try.
It was a completely different game from the one the Storm played at AAMI Park just eight days ago against Brisbane, but captain Cameron Smith and his teammates knew they had to make amends from that fixture, and he was pleased they did that on Saturday night.
"We didn't need the coaches to do any sort of review from last week, we knew before we even got back to training on Monday that we didn't play well and in particular didn't start well so we knew what we needed to fix before we got back here and these guys even spoke to us in a review meeting," Smith said.
"It was pleasing to see the response from the boys no doubt, but that's pretty much the standard that we need to show for the rest of this competition no matter how many games we play from here, that's what it's going to take to be in games from here on out."
With the win the Storm locked in a home final against the fourth placed Cowboys next weekend, and Smith is preparing for a huge challenge against North Queensland.
"Obviously JT (Johnathan Thurston) is back in the side and playing well, last time we played them he didn't play. We've played them on a big occasion this year early in the season at Suncorp in front of 45,000 and we played well that night, and we played well in Townsville as well," Smith said.
"There's a lot of things that we need to reset now and have a look at like what we want to come up with against the Cowboys, they're a very different side to Cronulla and they'll be a different side to what we've played the previous two matchups this year, this is finals and these guys are the reigning premiers so they know how to play the big games."