Fifita pays tribute to Smith and his Wembley ways

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Acting Cronulla captain Andrew Fifita can still the priceless pointers Cameron Smith gave him during the 2013 World Cup in England, and the rifle-like pass straight into his chest to score a try in the semi-final against Fiji.

The Sharks and Storm have developed one of the great rivalries in recent years, and while the Shire club are more than happy to ''go down there and try to crash the party'', it was impossible not to pay tribute to the man of the hour.

Fifita, who tore his calf muscle while completing the captain's run for Tonga a few weeks ago - and has been forced to do plenty of rehab swimming ahead of his return from suspension - singled out the Wembley World Cup game as his best memory of Smith.

"Cam always told me to not come too close to the ruck because I had a habit of getting closer to him, but he said 'wherever you are I'll get you the ball,'' Fifita said.

"I felt like I had to come close and then kick out [across field].

"But he said 'if you're on the sideline and I'm on the other side of the field, I will get you the ball'. He said, 'I'm the hooker, I have to get the ball on to your chest'.

"He told me to keep my distance, I remember against Fiji I was a bit wider, he hit me on the spot, I banged through a hole and scored.

"And to play against him, he's so hard to play against. He knows Jesse [Bromwich] well, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Christian Welch, their whole middle knows how he plays. He know when you hit short. He has a vision no other hooker has. If Cam is on Melbourne are on.''

Fifita declared Smith the ''GOAT (greatest of all time)'' and said nobody else would reach the 400-game mark, ''even if you're Paul Gallen and try to play until you're 45'', and especially now you cannot make your NRL debut until you turned 18.

"But we're not going down there to celebrate Cam Smith and his 400,'' Fifita said.

"When we walk on to that field and the ref blows the whistle, it's another football game we're trying to win.''

Andrew Fifita admires Cam Smith, but is happy to crash his 400th celebrations.

Andrew Fifita admires Cam Smith, but is happy to crash his 400th celebrations.Credit:NRL Photos

Josh Morris, another experienced Shark who played for the Kangaroos alongside Smith, said of the huge occasion at AAMI Park: "We need to go down there and crash the party. We're coming off the back of three losses and don't want to make it four. They'll be up for Cam's 400th, but we need to take the emotion out of it, start fast and make it a tough game.

"I've always enjoyed Cam's company on tours. He always seemed to come up with the right play at the right time to change the momentum of a game, put us in front or get the win.

"He did it for Queensland for so many years. To play 400 games in the middle and make 30-plus tackles each week, it's phenomenal.''

The return of Fifita is a huge plus after he served a three-match ban for a crusher tackle. He will be acting skipper with Wade Graham (hamstring) joining Paul Gallen (glute) in the casualty ward.

While Fifita could not play with Tonga because of suspension, he trained with them right up until the captain's run when he tore his calf completing extras in Auckland.

"It was the last 40m as I completed extras because I wasn't playing,'' Fifita said.

"'Bomber' [Cronulla coach John Morris] was all right. I've done rehab running. I've been doing a lot of swimming. I feel like I've swum to Sydney and back. I hate swimming.''