Manly Warringah Sea Eagles Coach Trent Barrett is not falling for talk that the Melbourne Storm can't win without their inspirational captain Cameron Smith.
The chief Melbourne playmaker will miss the clash against the Sea Eagles at AAMO Park on Saturday night after being suspended for one game on a dangerous contact charge on Gold Coast Titans forward Kevin Proctor in Brisbane last week. His absence is a major blow to the home side who have struggled without Smith in the past.
Although many see Smith's absence as a huge positive for Manly, Barrett is mindful of what replacement hooker Brandon Smith could do in just his second NRL game.
"Brandon Smith is a really good player. He is a terrific ball runner and is very strong,'' Barrett said today.
"Cameron Smith is obviously a big part in everything they do but they have got strike (power) all over the park.
"Their back five, in particular, are in terrific form and can hurt you from any position on the field, so we have got to do a big job on them."
Barrett said his players were determined to build on their impressive win over the Brisbane Broncos last week that snapped a five game losing streak.
"I just want to see some consistency from the side. I thought our last three games have been pretty good even though we didn't get the result and the two points against Newcastle or the Sydney Roosters, but we were in a position to win at the back end,'' he added.
"The team looks pretty settled to me which is important. We now have an opportunity to string back to back wins together."
Barrett said experienced five-eighth/half Trent Hodkinson was also settling into the team well after arriving at Narrabeen from Cronulla on Tuesday.
Hodkinson, who made his NRL debut with the Sea Eagles in 2010, has been named on the interchange bench with Dylan Walker listed to play five-eighth.
"We have got a few options there with 'Hodko coming in. He has been a steadying influence on us already but he has only had two sessions with the team,'' Barrett said.
"How much game time he gets tomorrow depends on a few circumstances or how things pan out."
Melbourne Storm v Manly Sea Eagles
Saturday 7.35pm, AAMI Park
Head-to-head: Played 32; Storm 18, Sea Eagles 13, 1 draw
Matches at venue: Played 6; Storm 4, Sea Eagles 1, 1 draw
Points per game: Storm 25.4; Sea Eagles 22.2
Points conceded per game: Storm 15.9; Sea Eagles 24.7
Televised: Live on Fox League
Match: Storm v Sea Eagles
Round 11 -
Venue: AAMI Park