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'I'm a Rooster now': Smith's assurance to Robbo ahead of Storm reunion

“I’m a Rooster now”.

That was the assurance Kiwi hooker Brandon Smith gave Roosters coach Trent Robinson as he prepares to face his former Storm teammates in Friday night’s semi-final at AAMI Park.

Robinson spoke to Smith earlier in the week and wanted to know how he was feeling about returning to Melbourne for the sudden-death encounter but the Kiwi international insisted he would keep his emotions in check.

“I think the voodoo is gone now, the whole emotion part of it. I've played them twice this year,” Smith said.

“I’ve played a lot of finals games for Melbourne down at AAMI Park and while I don’t know what it is going to be like playing against them, I think the two games prior to this has kind of softened the blow on the emotion side of things.

“At the end of the day I have got a job to do for the Roosters, I respect that club and I enjoyed my time there, but it is time to show the fans why I am a Rooster now.

"I told Robbo the same thing. He came and asked me how I feel about it and what my week is going to look like in that regard. I said the emotion is semi-detached from it. I am a Rooster now.”

Brandon Smith has found top form since his return from injury in Round 20
Brandon Smith has found top form since his return from injury in Round 20 ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

By his own admission, Smith didn't have the immediate impact expected when he joined the Roosters this season, but he has been hitting form in recent weeks after returning from a broken jaw.

During his time on the sidelines, Smith worked as hard as he ever has and lost four kilograms – most of which he has now put back on the star hooker felt his playing weight was too light at 92kg.

“I played a couple of games at 92kg, and I didn’t really enjoy it,” said Smith, whose weight at the Storm was usually 95kg to 99kg depending on whether he was playing hooker or lock.

“I have been walking around at 93kg, but on game day I am around 94kg. I was just doing a lot of running and it was tough. I semi thought I was in the army for nine weeks.

“I thought I had joined the SAS, not the Roosters, but it has paid off and hopefully we can keep building.”

With Smith starting at hooker since Round 21, the Roosters have won seven of their eight matches and he noticed a different attitude within the team after being out for two months.

Despite a high injury toll, the Roosters have managed to keep winning and Smith said the confidence among the players was growing each week.

“I got trained really hard and I guess I just built a little bit of trust in the team with my defence, and we've been able to connect a lot better from that,” he said.

“When you are confident things just happen for you and intuition comes in and you just do things that you wouldn't normally do, whereas when you're low on confidence you kind of go in your shell.

Brandon Smith superb try assist

“I feel that's sort of where I was at. I feel a lot of our players and our team were at the same stage and now we're building some confidence, we're starting to play a bit more freely.”

However, Smith warned that much of the Roosters success has been built on effort rather than playing well, including last Saturday night’s 13-12 defeat of the Sharks, and they will need to improve to overcome the Storm.

Of concern to Smith is that Melbourne are coming off a 26-0 loss to Brisbane and after jokingly labelling their performance as “putrid”, he has warned his new Roosters team-mates to brace for the Storm’s response.

“That is not the Storm side we are going to be playing and we know that,” he said. “As much as I would like them to play like that they just won’t. They are a great team, and they will bounce back.

“When I was there, I don’t think I lost back-to-back games for four years. It’s a big focus and it’s knock out footy. They are going to be bouncing back and we look forward to the challenge.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.