Storm's odd couple offer NRL finals edge

·2-min read

If Brandon Smith is Cheese then Harry Grant must be Chalk.

The Melbourne hookers are good mates and equally effective in the No.9 for the Storm, their unique partnership firming as a difference-maker as the club looks to defend an NRL title for the first time.

With both men fit coach Craig Bellamy has had to find a way to include both in the side, his solution starting Grant on the bench and shifting Smith to lock once he enters the fray.

It worked nicely in their minor premiership-clinching defeat of Cronulla on Friday, Smith scoring early before Grant's injection lifted them in a one-sided second half.

"That transition took a bit of getting used to, but it worked really well; at one stage it went Harry, to me, then Harry, then line break to Paps," Smith said ahead of Friday's qualifying final against Manly.

"We just respect each other and there's no turmoil, we give each other tips.

"It is Chalk and Cheese; Harry is a lot different to me, I'm a bit more grunty and wear the hits and he's just an energetic, fit hooker who can go all day.

"It was a pleasure to watch (against the Sharks) ... Harry's still got a lot more to come; he's probably the best hooker in the comp and I'm not ashamed to say that at all, he's the real deal."

Smith admitted if the pair weren't friends before they began vying for the same position it could have panned out differently.

"One week it's 'play Harry' then the next it's 'play Brandon' but one thing I know is that we're better together and it doesn't matter how we go about it," he said.

"We're just very fortunate that before this whole hooker spot thing he was one of my best mates and we've remained good friends.

"We're just stoked to be coming into finals, hoping we can take another step in levels and hit the finals on the head.

"We've got a great opportunity with a great side (to go back to back)."

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