Storm warning: Smith to do ruck damage

Storm star Cameron Smith (r) is tipped to take advantage of the NRL's new six-again ruck ruling.
Storm star Cameron Smith (r) is tipped to take advantage of the NRL's new six-again ruck ruling.

Melbourne believe ruck maestro Cameron Smith is the ideal player to use the new NRL rules to their advantage when they host Canberra on Saturday night.

In Thursday evening's first NRL match since the March shutdown, Parramatta scored their opening try against Brisbane on the back of the new six-again ruck rule.

The Storm are hopeful that 36-year-old hooker Smith will be able to orchestrate similar damage from dummy-half in their AAMI Park clash.

"Cameron's unrivalled in his experience in the game and his experience in that position," coach Craig Bellamy said on Friday.

"The way the dummy-halves from last night's game came out and got people on to the ball are encouraging for us because no-one does it better than Cameron.

"If last night's game is a continuing pattern then we'd like to think it gives us an advantage."

Smith himself said that going on the Eels-Broncos match the new rule had opened up plenty of room and could change how he would play.

"I think it will change a little bit given different circumstances throughout the match and the way the match is going it may change my style of footy ," Smith told The Matty Johns Show.

"All dummy-halves in the competition now; it may give us a lot more opportunity around that middle."

Both Smith and Bellamy believed that the biggest change had come from the switch back to one referee which resulted in far less penalties with a 6-1 count against the Broncos.

"The most significant change is the one referee," Smith said.

"It opens up the game a lot more and it has more of a flowing affect rather than having the two referees and in particular the assistant referee in around the ruck nit-picking.

"There's a consistent ruling throughout the match and we saw a very entertaining game of football with one referee."

With both teams making winning starts to the season, the Storm are looking to stop the Raiders inflicting their third successive defeat in Melbourne, with the last coming in a qualifying final.

Raiders second-rower John Bateman, who scored in the 78th minute of that game to break Melbourne hearts, will miss the match following shoulder surgery.

Storm premiership centre Curtis Scott will line up against his old team for the first time having joined last year's grand finalists in the off-season.

"Curtis is very highly regarded here ... he's one of our premiership-winning players and he's certainly improved a lot since then," Bellamy said.

"We know he's a really good player but we hope he doesn't go too well."

STATS THAT MATTER

* Excluding the grand final, the Raiders haven't lost an away match since Rd 15 last season

* Canberra prop Josh Papalii will play his 200th NRL game against the same team and at the same venue where he made his debut in Rd 10, 2011

* Melbourne are top defenders conceding just two line-breaks and missing 35 tackles, while the Raiders are best in attack, with 11 line-breaks and 74 busted tackles

Australian Associated Press