Storm proud of their Round 1 record
The Melbourne Storm extended their remarkable record of Round 1 wins to 13 consecutive victories following a gritty 12-6 win over the Canterbury Bulldogs at Belmore Sports Ground on Friday night.
Extending their incredible streak was an impressive feat on the road in front of a hostile home crowd and in tough wet-weather conditions.
However, it is only Round 1 and captain Cameron Smith knows there's a long way to go for Melbourne to return to the Telstra Premiership decider.
"I don't think I've ever played a Round 1 game and come away and thought 'it can't get any better than that'," Smith said.
"I think there are some fundamental things we need to improve on – there's no doubt about that."
The Storm are renowned for their gruelling preseason training sessions and boot camps which were initially planned in anticipation of a tricky State of Origin period without many of their star players.
While they may lose several key members again this year, getting off to a good start is still a priority for Craig Bellamy who enters his 15th season as head coach.
"We had more focus on it five or six years ago when we had a lot of players in Origin because we knew it was going to be a real strain on us," Bellamy said.
"We had six or seven in Origin so we planned for a lull. But these days we haven't got a whole heap. We've got Cam (Smith) and Coops (Cooper Cronk), hopefully (Will) Chambers too, and Macca (Jordan McLean) and Dale (Finucane) might be in line for NSW."
Their off-season formula has served them well over their long period of sustained success as an NRL powerhouse.
"I'd like to think too that we work really hard in the pre-season," Bellamy said.
"Every team would think they work really hard in the preseason but I'd like to think that players who get through our pre-season will handle most things come Round 1.
"The last couple of years we had games that could go either way, like tonight could've gone either way."
 Telstra Premiership: Cameron Smith
Minutes Played, Tackles, All Run Metres, Points.
Melbourne jumped out to an early 12-0 lead before Canterbury fought back to regain momentum and trail by six points.
Their extra efforts in the pre-season were the exact difference that got them over the line against a desperate Bulldogs side who were storming home.
"They (the Bulldogs) had plenty of opportunities down our end," Smith said.
"Defensively I was very pleased with our effort.
"I was quite pleased with how we played out the game given Jesse Bromwich left early (with a dislocated thumb injury) too.
"Young guys, who came on for short stints last year, had to play big minutes tonight and I was really proud of what they did."