Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy has told his side to sharpen up their kicking ahead of their clash with Cronulla Sharks at AAMI Park on Sunday.
The Storm's eight-game winning streak ended against premiership contenders South Sydney last week with Bellamy believing his side gave up too much ground to the Rabbitohs forwards and also made bad decisions when finding their kickers at the end of sets.
The Sharks have an equally strong forward pack and could do the same thing to the Storm on Sunday.
“Sometimes they [the Storm playmakers] were getting the ball of a slow play-the-ball or real slow play-the-ball and the Souths guys were coming at them,” Bellamy said.
“But other times they didnt get the ball as early as they wanted it, a couple of times there was a mix-up in communication on who was getting it and when they were getting it.
“Thats something we have worked pretty hard on this week, trying to get that communication right and give the kickers a little more time so they can place the ball better than last week.”
Bellamy also said his side had to handle do a better job slowing the Sharks who feature forwards Andrew Fifita, Matt Prior and Aaron Woods.
The Sharks have beaten the Storm three times out of their last four meetings but a Storm win would take them back to top spot and on the verge of locking in a top four place.
“We lost that game last week in the first 20 minutes of the second half, how we managed the game during that period was really poor and we cant do that against good teams and the Sharks are a real good team.
“From the start of the game last week we didnt do a good job on the big boys, the Burgess boys, they made a lot of metres and Damien Cook came off the back of that, the Sharks have some big boys and we have to be a lot better than that on Sunday.”
The Storm expect to have captain Cameron Smith take his place in the side this week after a toe issue saw him leave the field early last week while Fijian winger Suliasi Vunivalu is expected to return after missing last weeks game to attend the funerals of two friends in Fiji.
“He [Vunivalu] had a few personal issues last week and I dont think he did a lot of training over there,” Bellamy said.
“But he has played most of the season and he has come back and trained well this week, hopefully he can play well on Sunday and put last week behind him.”
The Storm have had an emotional week with superstar full-back Billy Slater announcing his retirement once this season ends.
Bellamy said he had hoped Slater would play on but now his side had even more motivation to go all the way.
“It has been a different week, a guy who is a superstar of the game doesnt retire every week so it has been emotional more than anything else,” Bellamy said.
“It was going to happen at some stage and I think we all hoped it wouldnt be this year and he would go on for another year but we always said that whatever Billy and Nicole [Slaters wife] decided was best for them then we would support them all the way.
“Hopefully the guys can really play well in the games we have left and send him out on a good note.”
The Storm will wear a special home jersey with pink colouring to celebrate Women in League round and the club will open the playing field for supporters post game, its only the second time this has happened since AAMI Park opened.
The Storm play the Sharks at AAMI Park on Sunday at 4.10pm.