CENTRE Will Chambers says Melbourne Storm is bracing itself for a brutal opening round encounter with long-time rivals Manly on Saturday night.
There is no tougher assignment in Round 1 than a trip to Brookvale Oval and Chambers said Melbourne was under no illusions what laid in store for them.
“It’s going to be tough – they’re a great side and battle hardened,” Chambers said.
“You know what you’re going to get from Manly.
“They’ll turn up and be physical and the crowd will get behind them.”
The two clubs have had some epic battles over the years and Chambers said he expected no different on Saturday.
“It’s like a mutual respect more than anything (between the two clubs),” he said.
“It’s always physical when you go to Brookvale.”
Chambers is jumping out of his skin after a faultless pre-season campaign that has included joining AFL club St Kilda on a high altitude camp in the US.
Coach Craig Bellamy has challenged Chambers to go to another level this season and the NT product said he felt perfectly placed to answer the call.
“I feel fresh and fit,” he said.
“It’s probably the first full pre-season I’ve had since I came back from rugby.
“Last year I had a shoulder reconstruction, but this year I’ve been out on the track the whole time.”
There is expected to be a vacancy in the Queensland centres this season with veteran Justin Hodges at long odds to be available for Origin I.
But Chambers – who is seen by many as first in line for a Maroons centre spot – said it was not occupying his thoughts.
“If I play good at the Storm all those sort of things will take care of themselves,” he said.
“Obviously it’s a dream, but I just have to worry about the Storm in Round 1 and go from there because we have a tough start to the season.”