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Storm say old Knights are no NRL weakness

Newcastle may be running on old legs but defending champions Melbourne aren't going to alter their game plan to try to exploit that in their NRL semi-final.
Storm say old Knights are no NRL weakness
by AAP

By Melissa Woods

MELBOURNE, Sept 18 AAP - Newcastle may be running on old legs but defending champions Melbourne aren't going to alter their game plan to try to exploit that in their NRL semi-final.

Ahead of their do-or-die clash at AAMI Park, Melbourne captain Cameron Smith said he didn't see the Knights' ageing roster - with nine players over 30 - as a weakness.

"The age factor of the opposition hasn't been taken into account at all this week," Smith said.

"The guys who are getting on a little bit, they're world-class players. You look at (Willie) Mason, Jeremy Smith, Danny Buderus, they've been some of their best players over the last month.

"We know that if we don't play well those guys will really hurt us."

Smith said the same comments were made about his ageing, yet triumphant, Queensland State of Origin team before the series against NSW this year.

"We (Queensland) were called Dad's Army and we got a good result as well," he said.

"If anything, age makes you a little bit smarter and those blokes have got a lot of experience around finals time so that's not on our radar at all."

Both Gareth Widdop and Brett Finch completed training on Wednesday and while Smith said the five-eighth jersey wasn't settled, it's hard to see coach Craig Bellamy looking beyond Widdop.

The England international made a solid return to the NRL in their qualifying final loss to Souths after a long lay-off with a dislocated hip.

"He's better for the run," Smith said.

"It's really what Craig wants to do with his football side, what he thinks is the best make-up against the Knights."

The Storm have identified their start as crucial to beating Newcastle to set up a grand final qualifier against the Sydney Roosters, with some sluggish performances proving costly during the season.

"Most of the talk has been about our start and the amount of errors that we're coming up with early in the matches and putting too much pressure on ourselves," he said.

"It's about each player in our side getting their start right."

Newcastle haven't won in Melbourne since 2004 and home and away the Storm have clinched their past seven straight against the Knights.

But their loss to the Rabbitohs, only their second in 16 games, was all the proof Smith needed to disregard their winning record over opposition line-ups.

"I have no idea why our record's so good against Newcastle but records don't mean too much to us," he said.

"I was told that we had a really good record against Souths last week and we got beaten."


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