SYDNEY - Melbourne captain Cameron Smith insists his side is not weighed down by history with the Storm attempting to become the first NRL premiers to go back-to-back in a unified competition in 20 years.
Not since the all-powerful Brisbane sides beat St George in consecutive grand finals in 1992-93 has a team defended its title — save for the Broncos going back to back in 1997-98 when the competition was split.
As the captains of all eight NRL finalists gathered in Sydney on Monday to launch the finals series aboard HMAS Leeuwin, Smith claimed the Storm were only focused on what the 2013 version could achieve — their 2012 success merely a footnote in history.
"We are striving to win another premiership, but it's not about trying to go back-to-back, it's about playing well each week we take the field," Smith said.
"It's a huge achievement to give yourself an opportunity to go back-to-back — we're aware of that, we're aware of the opportunity we've presented ourselves this year.
"Finishing third, it's a pretty big effort when you look at all the great teams involved in this year's campaign."
While consecutive premierships may be a tough ask, so too is returning to the decider the year after winning.
Since the 1993 Broncos, only two premiers have returned to the big one the following year — the 2003 Sydney Roosters and 2008 Storm — though Melbourne could also be scrapped from the list considering they were eventually stripped of their 2007 premiership.
"It shows how hard it is to make it ... it's that hard just to make a grand final let alone win one, and then people are talking about going back to back," Smith said.
"For us, we've just got to take the opportunity we've presented ourselves this week."
Despite finishing third on the ladder, the Storm have emerged as title favourites with bookmakers, punters going cold on the faltering Roosters and South Sydney.
A win over the Rabbitohs on Friday night would give the Storm a week off and a home preliminary final — leaving them perfectly positioned to reach their sixth grand final in the past eight years.
The Storm won both encounters between the two sides during the regular season — the second encounter in mitigating circumstances with Greg Inglis and John Sutton both sidelined for the Rabbitohs.