Melbourne have stepped up their preparations for the NRL preliminary final clash with the Sydney Roosters by trying to replicate the enemy territory of the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The Storm on Tuesday shifted training next door to Collingwood AFL club’s oval ground and marked out a rugby league field, complete with posts and advertising boards, in an attempt to mimic the venue for Saturday night’s clash.
High-flying winger Suliasi Vunivalu and second-rower Felise Kaufusi didn’t train with main group due to soreness but aren’t in any danger of missing the do-or-die clash.
Skipper Cameron Smith said it was about familiarising his team with playing within an oval ground and they would spend the week training there.
Melbourne have never played a club game at the SCG while Smith’s lone appearance at the ground came over a decade ago during the 2008 Centenary Test.
“We’ve done it once before this year, against the Roosters at Adelaide Oval,” he said.
“Since the Pies are now finished their season we had the opportunity to use that ground to try to simulate playing on our rectangle field inside an oval which we will be doing on Saturday.
“It can be a bit disorientating and you can get a bit lost when you’re out in the middle of our field, and then there’s so much room outside.
“Particularly for the kickers, you can lose the sidelines a little bit.”
Smith took about 20 practice goals on Tuesday as he attempted to iron out the kinks.
“I will just do my normal preparation – I kicked really well at practice last week it just didn’t go through the sticks” Smith said.
“Out of the six shots I had I only felt I had two I didn’t hit well but with the others the radar was off.
“I’ve been really happy with my kicking this year so hopefully it’s different this week.”
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