AAP Rugby

Storm not fazed by most-hated NRL tag

By AAP Newswire

Melbourne playmaker Cameron Munster isn't bothered by the lack of love for the Storm despite their dominant NRL season.

In fact, the five-eighth says he's "thrives" on criticism of his team.

The minor premiers can book another preliminary final berth with a win against Canberra at AAMI Park on Saturday afternoon.

Despite producing the greatest statistical season in 60 years, bookmakers rank the Storm behind defending champions the Sydney Roosters in the title race.

"We've been getting that criticism all year - at the start we weren't even going to make the top four, let alone win the minor premiership," Munster said on Friday.

"We've obviously proved critics wrong there.

Melbourne can at least claim the tag of "most hated NRL team," according to a new fan poll, which Munster put down to their continuous success and polarising captain Cameron Smith.

"Not everyone's going to like you and I've realised that playing footy - to be the most hated team we must be doing something right and annoying a lot of fans so fingers crossed we can annoy Raiders fans tomorrow.

"I really thrive when people have a go at us and I'm sure the other boys do when people try to bag you in the media."

Canberra shocked Melbourne in their round 22 meeting, where they fought back from an 18-0 deficit for a four-point victory.

Raiders halfback Aiden Sezer said while the result gave his team confidence, finals were a new ball-game.

"Not too many teams go down there and are successful so we know what's ahead of us," he said.

"Nobody probably expected us to get the win down there. "Melbourne will be a lot better team so it will be a tough one."

The Storm have a new halves partnership since then, with Jahrome Hughes shifting from fullback to allow speedster Ryan Papenhuyzen to take the No.1 jersey.

Munster, who has been battling a shoulder injury, says Hughes will keep the Raiders on their toes.

"Jahrome is a good runner of the ball and he's always going to cause headaches and ask questions of the defensive line," he said.

Munster also knows Canberra fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad well, the pair playing together in the Storm's under 20 team.

"I remember him when he was an 18-year-old kid coming through and he showed a lot of talent and unfortunately we had some decent players at our club at that stage and he had to move on but he's taken his chance at the Raiders," Munster said.

Turning 25 this week, Munster is already an old hand at NRL finals with Saturday's match his 12th final - compared to the likes of Papenhuyzen and centre Justin Olam who are in their first playoff.

But Munster won't be dishing out any advice.

"I don't need to say anything at all - if they can't get themselves up for a final I don't know what will.

"They've got a lot of confidence in themselves and you can tell with the way they're playing - they back themselves and we're going to need that on Saturday."

Stats that Matter

* Melbourne have lost four games this season - with three of the four at AAMI Park, most recently to the Raiders in Rd 22.

* Raiders centre Joseph Leilua has scored 10 tries against the Storm, his equal most against any team.

* Storm centre Will Chambers has never scored a try against the Raiders at AAMI Park, the only opponent he has failed to score against at the venue.