Rhinos warned to expect Storm backlash

Melbourne Storm skipper Cameron Smith has warned Leeds Rhinos that the Australian champions will be smarter and better prepared in the 2010 Gillette World Club Challenge than they were when the two sides last met.

Smith, the Kangaroos’ Test hooker, sat out the 2008 world title decider through injury as engage Super League champions Leeds dug out a famous 11-4 victory over Melbourne in filthy winter conditions at Elland Road.

The home of Leeds United FC hosts the rematch on Sunday February 28 when Smith says the NRL Grand Final winners will not want for motivation as they seek to follow in the footsteps of Many Sea Eagles, who defeated the Rhinos at the same venue last March.

“We’ll be a lot smarter than last time,” said Smith. “It was the first trip to England for most of the guys. The long journey was new to them and they didn’t know how to adjust to the time difference or how to prepare well for the game.

“I didn’t get to play in it, but I was watching it back home and was actually quite happy I was back there. It looked like a cyclone at the time – the rain was coming in sideways.

“Obviously it wasn’t ideal conditions for our boys coming out of the summer in Australia and into such cold, wet and windy conditions.

“I think our coaching staff will be a lot smarter with the players this time and have us well prepared.”

Smith, a member of the Australia team that defeated England 46-16 in the Gillette Four Nations at Elland Road last month, is determined to taste victory again but has nothing but respect for the best club team in Europe.

“Leeds are a very strong side – their feat in winning three titles in a row proves that,” said the 26-year-old. “They’ve got some very good players and played some really good football last season. Most of their players were in the side that beat us a couple of years ago so it would be nice to get one back over them.”

Before they face Leeds Melbourne will play a warm-up match against Harlequins and Smith is excited by the prospect of returning to the Twickenham Stoop after scoring a try at the stadium in Australia’s thrilling 20-20 draw with New Zealand in October.

“I really enjoyed the match there against the Kiwis and it would be good to get another big crowd. It’s great playing in front of English crowds,” said Smith.

Tickets for the Gillette World Club Challenge at Elland Road on Sunday February 28 are now available and prices start from £20 or £10 concessions.

Supporters can take advantage of the popular Family Offer by purchasing two adult tickets and two juniors for just £40. Leeds Rhinos season ticket holders can also get a 20 per cent discount on £30 tickets purchased before the deadline of Wednesday December 30.

To purchase tickets from the RFL Ticket Office please visit www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk or call 0844 856 11 13. Tickets are also available from the Leeds Rhinos Ticket Office at Headingley Carnegie Stadium or by calling 0871 423 13 15

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