Storm warning over electric Shaun Johnson
Electric Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson is the man the Melbourne Storm say they need to stop in their NRL clash on Sunday - if they can catch him.
Johnson has been integral in the Warriors mid-season surge and they are chasing a top eight berth with victory over the defending champions at Mt Smart in Auckland.
In their last round 24-14 victory over Wests Tigers he scored two tries and set up the match-winner for captain Simon Mannering.
The Storm, meanwhile, were humbled 39-0 by the Bulldogs in their last outing, desperately missing key Origin quartet Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Ryan Hoffman.
Those four return for this match but the toll of the gruelling Origin campaign could be telling.
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy said containing Johnson was easier said than done.
"We'd like to give [Johnson] some extra attention, if we can catch him," Bellamy said.
"He's in red hot form and he's a very talented young player with great pace so he's hard to handle."
The Storm needed two late tries to post a win in their last clash with the Warriors, who trouble Melbourne with their physicality and ad-lib attack.
Bellamy was relieved the taxing Origin period was behind them and believed the side needed to find some consistency to cement a top-four spot in the finals.
He said it would be difficult against the talent-laden Warriors who were living up to their pre-season potential.
"They've obviously been playing really well," Bellamy said.
"They had a very poor start to the season but they've probably been close to the form side the last five or six weeks so it's going to be a good contest."