By STEVE MASCORD
MELBOURNE stars have spoken of their fear that that a mental let down after Thursday’s grand final rematch will undo all the good work of their amazing start to the season.
Faced with playing in Leeds, Melbourne (twice) and Townsville in the space of five weeks, the premiers have been in outstanding form with a hard-fought World Club Challenge win followed by 20-points-plus successes over St George Illawarra and North Queensland.
The tough assignment concludes against Canterbury this Thursday at AAMI Park before a comparatively luxurious eight-day break ahead of the Suncorp Stadium appointment with Brisbane.
“Now’s the easy bit – now’s the time you don’t think about it,” said veteran prop Jason Ryles.
“We’ve got to get to next Thursday night and then we’ve got to be careful – which the sports science department will be and have been.
“It’s a couple of weeks after (that matters). You don’t want to be flat. You’ve got to make sure you rest up.
“That’s the case every week but especially after the Bulldogs game. We’ve had such a tough time with travel and everything.
“It’s an eight-day turnaround so we’ll probably bet a couple of days off to recharge the batteries. It’s both mental and physical.”
Ryles said the absorbing battle on Saturday night between Storm halfback Cooper Cronk and Cowboys five-eighth Johnathan Thurston represented “the two best players in the game going at it.
“It was good that Cooper came out on top because that pretty much means we win.”
Cronk said: “We’re not where we want to be but we’ve got that tough mentality to get us through games.
“We can execute our plays after that. At least the foundation is there. Our defensive game is probably close to where it needs to be.”
Meanwhile, prop Bryan Norrie has played down the club’s suggestions he was unable to play in round one because he had not adjusted from the trip to England sufficiently.
“The medical staff wouldn’t let me play,” he says. “I had a couple of bumps and bruises. I told them I was sweet to play but they had my interests at heart.”
Filed for: LEAGUE WEEK