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4 hours ago
The Melbourne Storm has a motto: no expectations.
It is fitting for a club repeatedly called the quiet achiever of the National Rugby League.
Some of the game's brightest young stars like Billy Slater and Cameron Smith have been a key part of the Storm's ascendancy from mid-table to being firmly entrenched in the finals.
Assistant coach Dean Lance says the lack of pressure has aided the team's build-up this season.
"Craig (Bellamy, Storm coach) has said it time and time again - we're putting no expectations on these kids," he said.
"The ball's in their court, it'll be a learning experience for them."
Enthusiasm has helped.
"What I have seen is a bunch of young guys who are willing to put their hands up and have a go," Lance said.
"They have really stepped up to the plate."
The Storm travel to Canberra to meet the Raiders in the first qualifying final on Friday night.
Lance is part of Canberra history - he captained the Raiders when they lost 18-8 to Manly in the 1987 grand final, the first time a Canberra team had made the decider.
Bellamy and the Storm's conditioning coach Alex Corvo also played for the Green Machine.
Lance arrived at the Storm at the beginning of the season from the Gold Coast, where he had been working for the Raiders in a talent-spotting capacity.
Before that, he was coaching Leeds in England and the Perth Reds and Adelaide Rams.
He said he had been watching the progress of Canberra's recruits with interest.
"I've seen the improvement in the Monaghans and Jason Bulgarelli must be the world's oldest rookie," he said.
"I've played and coached guys like Simon (Woolford) and Ruben (Wiki) so I have no doubt they'll be tough."