Ryan Papenhuyzen says the Melbourne Storm players are excited about the challenge of proving they can win without their long-time leader Cameron Smith.
The Storm will open their NRL premiership defence against South Sydney on Thursday night at AAMI Park - the first time the team have played at home in front of fans for 18 months.
Papenhuyzen says they've pushed the reset button after a crazy year that saw them spend four months out of Melbourne and still bring home the premiership trophy.
The super-charged fullback capped the season by winning the Clive Churchill Medal for his grand final performance and earning NSW State of Origin selection, although he didn't take the field through injury.
Not one for sentimentality, Papenhuyzen revealed in a recent radio interview he forgot about his wet grand final jersey until a few weeks after the game and it was covered in mould and had to be rescued by his mum.
Smith will on Wednesday make his first official appearance at Melbourne's headquarters in almost a year, unveiling a statue of himself and Billy Slater, although isn't expected to be at the match.
Papenhuyzen says it will be strange playing without Smith, who has been in every round one Storm team since 2002, but they were confident they could cover him.
"I think so (it's something we want to prove)," Papenhuyzen said.
"There's a couple of games last year when he was injured we can take some confidence out of.
"He's a massive loss, no doubt, but we've got some pretty dynamic hookers who are going to come in and the game's really started to suit them with these rule changes so it's exciting for the team."
Papenhuyzen is looking to test himself against Rabbitohs fullback Latrell Mitchell, who lit up the pre-season in his return from a serious hamstring injury.
"He's a star, he's so talented and he's got a massive body for a fullback so he's going to be hard to stop," the 22-year-old said.
"We are going to have to do a good job on him but there's also three other guys in Souths' spine who are dangerous too."
Australian Associated Press