Storm halfback Matt Orford believes Melbourne?s lack of finals experience won?t be a factor in Friday night?s first semi final against the Raiders at Canberra Stadium.
Orford is one of 11 players in the Storm side named today that will be making his NRL finals debut but doesn?t believe the lack of playoff experience will influence the outcome on Friday night.
?It?s a long time between drinks for myself, I think the last finals campaign I had was in under 12?s,? Orford said.
?We?re all pretty excited and just want to make the most of the experience so I don?t think much will change in the way we play and the way we prepare this week and I don?t think the lack of finals experience will matter too much at all.
?The young guys have done a great job because it?s such a long season and to be consistent week in week out in their first year is a huge effort.
?They (young players) are pretty lucky because they?ve stepped straight into first grade and straight into finals footy and I?ve played here for three years without even coming close.
?I think the coach has stressed that these chances don?t come around all the time and you don?t know when it?s going to come up next.?
Storm coach Craig Bellamy recognises the Storm?s lack of finals experience but is quick to point out the maturity shown by the club?s younger brigade already this season.
?There?s only about five or six of the guys in the team that have played semi finals so we?d like a bit more finals experience there,? Bellamy said.
?But our young guys have handled anything that?s been thrown at them this year and even the guys like (Steven) Bell, (Peter) Robinson and Orford haven?t played semi finals before and they?re not young footballers anymore.
?It shouldn?t be too hard for them to get prepared and motivated for this week.?
Bellamy also stressed the need to capitalise on finals opportunities when they arise.
?For different reasons you don?t know when you?re going to get that (finals) chance again so I?m sure the guys making their finals debut will be looking to grab the opportunity with two hands and really enjoy the experience,? Bellamy added.
?You?ve got to treat this match as though it could be your last finals experience.
?We?re not trying to hide that fact we know it?s a final, we know it?s a really important game and it?s a step up from what we?ve been used to over the past 26 rounds.
?Basically the last 26 weeks have been practice for this game and that?s the mentality you got to have this week so it?s no use trying to kid ourselves that it?s just another game because it isn?t.?
Bellamy hasn?t made any changes to the side that beat Manly by 30 points last week except moving Kiwi Glen Turner to lock and Matt King back to the bench.
Young second-rower Ryan Hoffman will travel to Canberra as 18th man.
MELBOURNE STORM TEAM TO PLAY CANBERRA, THIS FRIDAY AT OLYMPIC PARK, 7.30PM
1. Billy Slater BENCH 2. Fifita Moala 14. Danny Williams 3. Steven Bell 15. Matt King 4. David Kidwell 16. Nathan Friend 5. Marcus Bai 17. Mitchell Sargent 6. Matt Geyer 7. Matt Orford 18. Ryan Hoffman 8. Robbie Kearns 9. Cameron Smith 10. Kirk Reynoldson 11. Peter Robinson 12. Stephen Kearney (c) 13. Glen Turner
STORM TRAINING THIS WEEK Tuesday: 6.30pm, Olympic Park Thursday: 6.30pm, Canberra StadiumLike