Cameron Smith will have to break new ground over the next three weeks if the Melbourne Storm are to make up for last year’s heartbreak and win the premiership.
The two titles that Smith has previously won with the Storm in 2012 and 2017 followed victories in the first week of the finals.
The Storm suffered a surprise 12-10 loss to the Raiders last weekend and now face a rampant Eels side that will be on a high following their 58-0 thumping of the Broncos.
While admitting the Storm's path to the 2019 grand final is not ideal, Smith believes they are still in the race to better last year's runner-up finish.
"We have got to deal with the situation the best we can," Smith said on Tuesday.
"We know we are a better side than how we played on the weekend and we are up for this challenge.
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"It isn't the preferred route through to the next game we wanted to play, but we will be here ready to go."
History is, however, against the Storm.
Since the NRL introduced a top eight in 1999, only four teams have lost in the first week of the finals and gone on to claim the premiership.
The bad news for the Storm is that it has never been done by a team that has won the minor premiership, so Smith’s team must create history if they want to go all the way.
The most recent team to suffer a first up finals loss and still win the premiership in the same season was the Cowboys in 2015 and Smith said he may have to speak with former Queensland teammate Johnathan Thurston to get a few tips on how to approach the situation.
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"I should ring him up and see what they did there (in 2015) as they knocked us off in a prelim," Smith noted.
"It is not un-doable.
"We all need to take a step back from the disappointment and remember we have got a good footy side here."
The Eels will be full of confidence following their crushing victory over the Broncos, but Smith says his team needs to focus on what they do best to ensure they aren't bounced out of the finals in straight sets.
"Having played the way they did they will be very confident," he said.
"But we finished the comp as the best defensive team in the comp and we got that for a reason.
"We have got to be confident in that and make sure we bring that to the game."
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