Melbourne’s verdict after watching video of their round three loss to Canberra is that they need to change – and fast.
The Storm were out-smarted as well as out-played by the Raiders, who embraced the ad-lib style of football suited to a quicker ruck under one referee.
Perennial finalists Melbourne need to adopt such a style if they want to make the top four, and only have a few days to do so with their next match against South Sydney on Friday night at AAMI Park.
Queensland Origin prop Christian Welch said his team needed to move away from playing entirely structured attack and learn to improvise.
He felt that was something the Raiders did especially well in the convincing 22-6 victory.
Welch said the Storm had already had numerous meetings since Saturday night to work out where and how they could improve.
“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.
“It really suits the Raiders and their style, getting off (Josh) Hodgson and playing very ad-lib.
“We’re a bit more renowned for our structured play which doesn’t suit as much so we’re going to have to adapt.
“We also didn’t perform that well – completed at 60 per cent – so there’s a fair few areas where we need to improve.”
They will have to do so without giant prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona, who has accepted a one-game ban for a dangerous contact charge.
Welch or Tui Kamikamica may come into the starting side as his replacement, with Darryn Schonig a chance to make his NRL debut from the bench.
Playing what’s in front of him is a strength of Rabbitohs’ Test hooker Cook which has the Storm on high alert, with Souths also disappointing in their loss to Sydney Roosters.
Welch said they had a put a target on Cook.
“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 Welch, 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.”