No one is hit harder by the State of Origin period than the Melbourne Storm.
But, after a slow start to the year, Storm coach Craig Bellamy is confident the perennial NRL powerhouse can successfully negotiate the interstate period with superstars Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater focused on their Queensland duties.
After an impressive 27-14 win over South Sydney on Friday night, the Storm are 6-4 after 10 rounds following back-to-back victories before the eight-week Origin period begins next week with the NSW and Queensland sides named on Tuesday.
''Origin is always a tough period for us - that is just the way it is,'' Bellamy said.
''We need some of our older players to stand up and take charge because we don't see these blokes much during these six or seven weeks.
''Even when they are not playing Origin we are trying to rest them up, they are playing a lot of games during that period.''
Melbourne have a bye next weekend ahead of the Origin opener in Brisbane on May 28.
Then they have to work their way through a challenging five-game period before they have their second and last bye of the season ahead of the third Origin game on July 9.
Smith, Slater and Cronk were all instrumental in their win over the Rabbitohs with Slater scoring two tries and returning to form having struggled to hit the ground running this year after pre-season knee surgery following Australian's World Cup win.
Bellamy said the effort his team have put in - in wins over Souths and Manly - had him feeling better heading into the middle part of the premiership.
''I'm feeling a lot more confident after the last two weeks,'' Bellamy said.
''Origin is there; we knew it was coming. We just need to make sure everyone steps up a touch - and makes sure that when these guys are away, our training standards are good and, if our training standards are good, we should perform reasonably well.'
Who was the best player in the NRL this year?Related story: (See story)