Storm to celebrate Smith milestone in style
MELBOURNE Storm has vowed it will celebrate skipper Cameron Smith's NRL games milestone properly on Saturday.
A home preliminary final and a week off will be on the line when Storm plays Parramatta at AAMI Park at 4.10pm.
Sydney Roosters meet Brisbane Broncos on Friday night at Allianz Stadium in the other qualifying final.
Smith will overtake Broncos great Darren Lockyer as the NRL games record-holder when he runs out for his 356th game this weekend. He will receive the acknowledgment he deserves, despite the magnitude of the clash with the Eels.
"Regardless of whether it is a final or no final, it is a very big occasion for Cameron and his family," Storm football director Frank Ponissi said.
"We feel very privileged to be a part of it, so we're going to enjoy the occasion and we're certainly not going to treat it as low key.
"It is a big focus for us, and the best way to celebrate a milestone is to play to our absolute best and get the ultimate result.
"That's how we want to help Cameron enjoy the milestone - by putting in a good performance."
Storm is in perfect shape heading into the finals series.
It has a full list from which to choose and finished the regular season with a strong 32-6 home win against Canberra on Saturday night.
Storm was not tempted to rest players, despite having already secured the minor premiership.
"We managed the players through Origin a lot different than we have in other years," Ponissi said.
"Because we did that, there was no need to do it (rest players) this year.
"We just made the decision that if any of our players - and not just our Origin blokes - were carrying injuries the last few weeks that we wouldn't risk them."
Ponissi said Storm had not wanted to flirt with form in the lead-in to the finals.
"I think one thing we've learnt over the years is that momentum is really important," Ponissi said
"You need momentum going into finals ... across the board.
"That has been our big focus, but we know we're playing a team in Parramatta whose momentum is as good as ours has been the past six weeks or so. But overall, we are in good shape."