Smith expects Storm to return in shape

Melissa Woods
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NRL STORM MEDIA OPP

Melbourne CEO Dave Donaghy is planning for the Storm to be playing away games when the NRL resumes

Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith has confidence his NRL team will pick up where they left off with his Storm teammates telling him they have kept on track with training ahead of the season restart.

The Storm are expecting to open the rebooted NRL season with away games and finish with a series of home matches - hopefully in front of fans.

The players returned to AAMI Park on Monday for the first time in more than a month, forced to queue on taped marks on the ground before being temperature tested in their first encounter with the new NRL biosecurity measures.

Star winger Josh Addo-Carr was first to arrive after last week's breaches of social distancing laws while in NSW.

The club was given an exemption by the Victorian government to hold its education day at its headquarters however they will head across the border to Albury on Tuesday with the state of emergency restrictions preventing the team training at its home ground.

While returning to Melbourne for weekends, they are hopeful it will only be for one week but are prepared if it extends further into May.

Winning their opening two rounds before the coronavirus shutdown, Smith said he expected his team to hit the ground running.

He said he had kept to Melbourne's designated training program and believed his teammates had also.

"I've been following our training program I've been given by our head of performance Lachie Penfold and speaking with the boys they've all been training really hard too," Smith said.

"I'd go as far to say I'd expect everyone to be in some pretty decent condition physically."

Storm boss Dave Donaghy said that looking further ahead they were poised to play a number of games interstate when the season resumed.

"We don't (expect to be playing at home)," said Donaghy, due to Victoria's tighter restrictions.

"I'm accepting of the fact that probably for the first little period of time, we'll be playing a few away games.

"The competition structure hasn't been confirmed but I would suspect that would be the case."

Donaghy said the Storm experienced a similar scenario in 2006 when they played the first six rounds away due to the Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

Melbourne won the minor premiership that year although it was later stripped as part of salary cap penalties.

Donaghy said he understood that the remainder of the 2020 draw would be equalised with more home games later in the season - and he believed Melbourne could possibly play in front of crowds.

"That would be my understanding, if we were playing more away games at the start there would be the opportunity to back-end some home games," he said.

"I'm genuinely hopeful that in some way, shape or form we will start seeing crowds back at AAMI Park as long as the trends keep going the way they are."