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Perfect Storm won't drop guard as Smith closes in on record

The Melbourne Storm won't be taking the Canterbury Bulldogs lightly on Sunday afternoon at AAMI Park.

The undefeated Storm host the 15th-placed Bulldogs on the back of an impressive 32-2 triumph over the Panthers that catapulted them to the top of the Telstra Premiership ladder.

Storm assistant coach Jason Ryles expects the Bulldogs will be brimming with confidence after last week's impressive 22-8 road win over the Wests Tigers and said the Storm are always mindful of under-estimating opponents.

"I am honestly not surprised with the result from the Tigers and the Bulldogs game on the weekend," Ryles said at AAMI Park on Tuesday.

"We have watched the last couple of games they [the Bulldogs] have played and all their trials and they have been building towards that.

"The result on the weekend against the Tigers wasn't a surprise and we have got a game on our hands on the weekend and we are going to have to prepare accordingly."

Storm captain Cameron Smith.
Storm captain Cameron Smith. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

The Storm have enjoyed a perfect start to 2019 with three victories from as many matches and head into Sunday's encounter with close to a full squad to choose from.

Ryles said a few players were nursing slight niggles and will be monitored during the week and also indicated big man Joe Stimson was ready to make his return from a lower back injury.

Stimson scored a try while playing in the Queensland Cup for the Sunshine Coast Falcons against Norths on the weekend and Ryles said he was in the mix to return to the Storm lineup.

Storm forward Joe Stimson.
Storm forward Joe Stimson. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

"The development coaches told us that he looked like an NRL player playing in the [Intrust Super Cup] Q Cup," Ryles said.

"That's really good to hear. He hasn't had a lot of luck with injuries over the last few weeks, but he has got himself back and ready to go and he will certainly be in contention for the 17 come Sunday."

Storm skipper Cameron Smith heads into the round four clash needing a further nine points to surpass Hazem El Masri and become the NRL's all-time leading point-scorer.

It would be fitting if Smith could break El Mazri's's record this week given the goal-kicking great spent his entire career with the Dogs.

But Ryles indicated the Storm won't be shifting their focus from the usual game plan just to get Smith over the line.

"As much as we would like to do that, I don’t think that will be happening," Ryles said.

"He might have three of four goes from dummy-half during the game, but we will see how it goes.

"We will just play how we play and if he happens to go over the try-line so be it."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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