Storm brace for another fiery Manly clash
It's a modern-day rivalry which only stretches back a little more than a decade but there is an intensity to Melbourne v Manly contests which has a habit of spilling over into fisticuffs.
After the clubs traded grand final wins over each other in 2007 and 2008, Sea Eagles forward Glenn Stewart and Melbourne rival Adam Blair infamously went toe to toe on the way to the sin bin at Brookvale three years later, sparking a wild brawl between the teams.
When the teams most recently squared off at AAMI Park in round 11, Melbourne centre Curtis Scott was sent off for punching Dylan Walker, who was sin-binned along with Apisai Koroisau for his part in the melee.
Manly have poured further petrol on the fire by marketing this Saturday's clash as the 10th anniversary of their 2008 grand final demolition of the Storm, selling shirts and merchandise branded "40-nil" to commemorate the club's biggest triumph over their Victorian adversary, despite enduring one of their most forgettable seasons on record.
Storm hooker Brandon Smith, who started in place of a suspended Cameron Smith in that round-11 loss to the Sea Eagles, is prepared for another spirited encounter but won't take the bait of throwing punches if he's taunted by opponents or fans.
"I don't think the anger is there – that didn't work too well for us last game, as you could tell by the scoreboard," Smith said.
"I think we'll just worry about our own game and own performance."
"Melbourne really tell us about the history that Manly and the Storm have.
"When I was a little kid, I used to watch all the rivalries [between them] with the grand finals. I really admired the way they played footy against each other. It was tough and aggressive football, and a lot of emotion is shown out on the field between the Storm and Manly, I can't wait to be part of that."
Smith is enjoying a breakout year in the Telstra Premiership and will play his 14th game of the year. The 22-year-old is relishing the opportunity to learn of Cameron Smith during Origin period, both on and off the field.
"He just shows that leadership and how he makes everyone around him a lot better player and person as well," Smith said.
"He's always giving you tips and tricks. There's no-one really like him that I've ever played with. Just the influence he has on us younger players, and even the older players, is remarkable. He's an incredible asset to this team and to me I reckon."
With Will Chambers, Billy Slater and Josh Addo-Carr spending time on Origin duty, Winger Suliasi Vunivalu has been spending more time in the middle helping his colleagues recently.
Vunivalu says he's trying to chime in when called upon to help through the middle.
"Sometimes when we get a call, we all go in and look for balls," he said.
"Most of the time, all the leaders like Smithy have a call, so we'll stay on our wing though – we don't want to ruin the play."