Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith.

Storm's Smith praises teammates for record

Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith added the record for most wins as an NRL player to his growing list of achievements after his side's heroic 28-6 win over the Penrith Panthers on Saturday night at AAMI Park.

The Storm's "Big Three" all rank in the top 10 for most victories, and Smith acknowledged the significance his long-time companions Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk have had in helping to accomplish the resounding feat of winning 238 first-grade games.

"We've [Melbourne Storm] only been around 20 years and we've got three players in the top 10 for most wins ever," Smith said. 

"The competition is 110 years old with a few clubs that are 110 years old and we've got three players in the top 10. 

"For me, it's a nice milestone to achieve and a nice record to have but I'm very thankful I've been part of a special footy club around some wonderful people. 

"That number sits beside my name but I couldn't have done that without Craig [Bellamy], the coaching staff here to help me throughout my career, all my teammates and my family."

Smith broke previous-holder Darren Lockyer's record of 237 wins and coach Bellamy paid tribute to his skipper and fellow comrades in Slater and Cronk on a historic night for the two-time premiership club.

"I see it as a real special night with Cameron winning more NRL games than any other player in the history of the game – that's pretty big," Bellamy said. 

"Cooper went past Terry Lamb tonight. Terry Lamb's one of the best club players I've ever seen. 

"Billy, after missing two years, he's in the top 10 as well. 

"I feel real proud and very thankful to be involved with these three blokes."

For all his accomplishments, Smith remains driven to win the NRL premiership. Last year's heart-breaking grand final loss to the Cronulla Sharks remains the one that got away from the game's most-winning record holder.

"You don't get sick of winning premierships," Smith said. 

"I'd love to go and have another crack at that. Lifting the trophy up again would be very special.

"We've put that (grand final loss) to bed early in the preseason last year. I would've loved to have won that game and gone back to do a few things differently and been able to hold up that trophy but the Sharks are the premiers and they'll always be the premiers of 2016."

Melbourne get the chance for a small amount of vengeance in a grand final rematch with the Cronulla Sharks next Sunday at home, but Smith insists the focus is on his side building for the season.

"We've started the year undefeated and we'd like to keep it that way," Smith said. 

"Our focus this year is on being the best team we can be in 2017. 

"It's going to be a huge game no doubt, it's the grand final replay but it doesn't matter who we play, they'll always turn up and play their best footy against us. The Sharks will do that again next week."

 


Smith's milestone win came in fine style on Saturday night with a spirited defensive effort to retain their perfect 5-0 start to the season. After a lacklustre performance that was admittedly "well-below standards" against Wests Tigers last week, Smith said the focus was on their defence.

The Panthers dominated 60 per cent of possession and were entrenched on the Storm's try line after halftime but were shutout 18-0 in the second half.

"It's always going to take a huge amount of effort to make that many tackles inside your own 20-metre zone but that's what we pulled out tonight," Smith said. 

"[Our ball control's] been poor. In our five games this year, we've won off effort."

Bellamy was also pleased with the defence against Penrith but recognises the need to improve in attack.

"We struggled with the ball but our defence was outstanding, especially on our tryline," Bellamy said. 

"[Penrith] throw a lot at you. They're a really skilful footy team. 

"It was pretty resilient performance, especially against opposition like that."