Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith is expected to play in the sudden death NRL clash with Canterbury, but the Bulldogs won’t give him an easy ride.
Canterbury second rower Dale Finucane has warned that the Bulldogs may test Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith’s injured ankle in Sunday’s NRL elimination final.
Smith is battling to be fit in time for the finals after picking up an ankle sprain in last week’s clash with Brisbane.
Most expect the durable Australian skipper to play, but Finucane has made it clear he won’t get an easy ride in the sudden death match at AAMI Park.
“He (Smith) is always going to be around the ball,” Finucane said on Thursday.
“He could be a little bit of a target.”
While hooker Smith is widely recognised as a key to the Storm’s finals hopes, Finucane said stopping giant Kiwi test prop Jesse Bromwich would also be critical for the Bulldogs.
“He’s been one of their real good go-forwards this year,” Finucane said.
“They’ve definitely got strength in their forward pack.”
Bromwich ranked third amongst forwards for hit ups and runs in the regular season, with 336.
Finucane returns against the Storm from a one-week suspension for a dangerous throw.
Bulldogs fullback Sam Perrett said the buzz of playing finals will help the players lift for the “do or die” elimination clash after a disappointing end to the season.
“I think the event, the atmosphere this weekend will definitely help,” he said.
The Bulldogs, after sitting on top after seven rounds, have gone on to lose six of their past seven games, finishing the regular season seventh on the ladder.
Perrett said the Bulldogs would need to concentrate on keeping possession of the ball to help recapture their earlier form.
“The more you can hold it, the more you’re starving the other side,” he said.
The experienced Perrett hasn’t forgotten the 2012 grand final loss to the Storm, which was the last time the two teams met in a final.
“That always left a bad taste, a disappointing memory,” he said.
“But it’s a new year, a new team.
“Do or die is enough motivation for us at the moment.”