Smith toasts stunning rise at NRL's Storm

Reimis Smith is relishing his time at Melbourne after enduring four barren seasons with Canterbury.
Reimis Smith is relishing his time at Melbourne after enduring four barren seasons with Canterbury.

Usually Reimis Smith's major footy event in September is Mad Monday.

But 12 months after drowning his sorrows at second-last Canterbury, Smith is ready to toast success at NRL defending premiers Melbourne.

After ditching his Bulldogs "bad habits", Smith now has the Storm's winning knack.

Smith slotted into all-conquering Melbourne's backline this year to play every game during their record-equalling run of 19-straight wins before an impressive finals debut in last week's 40-12 rout of Manly.

No wonder his head is spinning ahead of next week's preliminary final.

"Obviously we have struggled at the Dogs the last couple of years so my first finals game was last week - it's pretty crazy," the 24-year-old said.

Even his teammates find his stunning rise hard to fathom.

"I asked if he had played a finals game before and he laughed at me - he said 'usually I am at Mad Monday at this time'," Storm back-rower Felise Kaufusi said.

"I was like what do you mean you haven't played finals?

"But he has been great. He bought in on what the club is about and shone for us this year to be one of the best centres in the comp."

Not that Smith's journey from the Doghouse to the NRL's penthouse was smooth.

"It was a tough time for me transitioning from the Bulldogs to the best team in the comp," said Smith, who had four seasons at lowly Canterbury.

"Everyone has bad habits but it was probably easier (to get away with them) because we weren't winning as many games (at Canterbury) and there wasn't much accountability there.

"But in saying that it was up to me (to change)."

A reality check from premiership-winning Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy proved the turning point.

"I had a few honest conversations with Craig and it made me accountable for my actions," he said.

"He said to me 'you have to work hard for what you want, I am not just going to give it to you'."

These days it is hard to prise the Storm jersey from Smith's grasp.

He played 24 games straight until he was reluctantly rested in their regular season finale.

"It's pretty crazy looking back at it now. I played in all 19 straight wins. I don't know what to tell you - I am a bit speechless," Smith beamed.

"But it tells me I can do it, that it is in me, I just need that belief. It gives me a boost for the prelim final."

Australian Associated Press