Storm on high alert for Souths’ Cook

Melbourne Storm will put a target on South Sydney’s livewire hooker Damien Cook as they look to shake off their sluggish NRL season restart.

The Storm host the Rabbitohs at AAMI Park on Friday night eager to rebound from their disappointing performance against Canberra.

They will have to do so without giant prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona, who has accepted a one-game ban for a dangerous contact charge.

The Storm spent Monday morning poring over painful video of their 22-6 loss, which was littered with uncharacteristic errors.

Melbourne know they need to up their tempo to adjust to the speed of the game under one referee, and six-again ruck rule.

Storm Origin prop Christian Welch said his team needed to move away from playing entirely structured attack and incorporate some more ad-lib football.

He felt that was something the Raiders did especially well in the convincing victory.

“The game is really different, especially for us ruck forwards in the middle,” Welch said on Monday.

“Just adjusting to some of those new rules … I think it’s going to change the style of football and there’s going to be a lot of ad-lib and very fast-paced and less structured football and probably a lot more points to be scored.

“We’re a bit more renowned for our structured play which doesn’t suit as much so we’re going to have to adapt and we’ve had a few meetings today to look at where we can improve.”

Playing what’s in front of him is a strength of Test hooker Cook which has the Storm on high alert for Friday night with Souths also disappointing in their loss to Sydney Roosters.

“They’re a really strong well-balanced side and the way the game is getting refereed, having a strong hooker is going to be a real strength,” said Welsh, with round three his first NRL match back from last year’s ACL injury.

“Cook is probably the quickest hooker in the competition so we will be on high alert and preparing all week to do our best defensively to contain them.

“We need to do a job on our kick-chase and those early tackles to try and stop Damien Cook getting out and running rampant.”

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