Favourites not about to take their foot off the gas

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - SPORT - MICHAEL CARAYANNIS

THEY’RE al­ready rated one of the great­est NRL teams of all and the hottest premier­ship hope in mem­ory, but don’t think Mel­bourne Storm are tak­ing short­cuts on the road to glory.

Storm play­ers have been given more time to freshen up com­pared to last sea­son in a bid pre­pare for their pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal against Bris­bane on Fri­day.

While Storm are no stranger to play­ing in the penul­ti­mate week­end — this is their third con­sec­u­tive pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal and ninth in the past 12 years — they are still tin­ker­ing with their prepa­ra­tion. Last year they un­der­went an in­tense op­po­si­tion ses­sion to mimic a match dur­ing their week off. This year, how­ever, Storm coach Craig Bel­lamy has given his charges an ex­tended break, giv­ing them two days off be­fore they re­turn to train­ing to­day.

Storm en­tered the fi­nals as $1.85 favourites with the TAB to win it all.

“We’ve had a cou­ple of days off,” lock Dale Fin­u­cane said. “It’s a freshen-up week, I guess. We had a lit­tle bit of work and train­ing ear­lier on and now we will ap­proach it as a nor­mal seven-day turn­around prepa­ra­tion for us.

“(Thurs­day) was our big­ger train­ing day be­fore lead­ing into our nor­mal seven-day prepa­ra­tion.

“(The coach­ing staff) have spread the workload. Last year we might’ve had a few days off in a row be­fore do­ing a heav­ier ses­sion. It’s a bit sim­i­lar but we’ve spread the workload over a few days.”

Fin­u­cane — who has been part of three premier­ship losses — stressed his side needed to not get ahead of them­selves.

“I don’t like to think about it too much,” he said of fi­nally lift­ing the tro­phy. “One poor per­for­mance is all it takes.”

Mel­bourne Storm’s Dale Fin­u­cane.

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