Forget the alleged ear bashing, Cameron Smith’s control of the ruck is the Titans' greatest threat.
That’s the opinion of Titans hooker Mitch Rein who will oppose the Storm skipper for the 10th time on Sunday.
The Storm’s shock 22-18 loss to the Raiders on Saturday evening and the fallout associated with a tackle by Smith on Canberra winger Bailey Simonsson for which he was issued a concerning act notice makes a difficult assignment for Gold Coast the equivalent of mission impossible.
Last on the ladder with just four wins and seeking their first win in Melbourne in five years, the Titans shape as the innocent bystanders to the wrath of a runaway Storm side suddenly under siege.
A win would secure Melbourne a third minor premiership in the space of four years and driving them forward will be their inspirational skipper.
Rein described the Storm No.9 as the best he has ever played for the control he exerts on a game of rugby league.
The race for the last two finals spots
"He just controls everything. He's always in control and always a couple of steps ahead of everyone,” Rein said ahead of his 10th meeting with Smith of which he has been victorious just twice.
"He's just the best at controlling the game and that's so hard to do.
"When people figure out how to do something to get the better of them, he's figuring out a new way to do the same thing back, and mostly it always comes off.”
Although he acknowledges the influence Smith has on a game, Rein highlighted the other contributors within the Storm side who allow Smith to take ownership of the contest.
Lane hopes players learn from his mistake
Whether it’s the forwards such as Dale Finucane, Jesse Bromwich and Nelson Asofa-Solomona through the field, Cameron Munster and Brodie Croft either side of the ruck or the pace and power of Suliasi Vunivalu and Josh Addo-Carr, there’s barely a weakness from 1-17.
"They're just relentless,” said Rein.
"They've got so many threats on the whole field. He's such an important player in their side and best player I've probably ever seen but they've got so many threats on the field you can't just focus your energy on him.
"He works off the back of all his forwards and they've got a really big pack and really big outside backs that are fast and powerful, they've got threats all over the field.
"You've just got to be ready because if one person goes down they've got another guy coming through.”
Rein and Nathan Peats both played 80 minutes in the 36-12 loss to the Eels last Friday, the pair combining for an astonishing 104 tackles between them.
Rein’s 79 run metres against Parramatta represented his second-highest output of the season, the 29-year-old relishing the new attacking structures put in place by senior coach Craig Hodges.
Tackle of the week: Round 22
"I'm loving he way we're attacking at the moment,” said Rein.
“It's giving us a chance to move them around but we're taking them on up the middle a bit more.
“Before we were playing a bit more down channels and towards the sideline but I feel like we've opened up the field a bit more and it's given us a few more attacking opportunities.
"We got a few long-range tries against the Dragons so it shows we're working in the right direction.”