Melbourne captain Cameron Smith has hit back at Phil Gould's claims the Storm are "overrated", saying the minor premiers won't be distracted by fickle opinion heading into the NRL grand final.
Unconvinced by Melbourne's patchy form during the finals series, Gould believes North Queensland are undoubtedly a chance to crash Cooper Cronk's farewell party at ANZ Stadium.
"I haven't been a fan of the way the Melbourne Storm have been playing in recent times," Gould said on his Six Tackles with Gus podcast.
"I think they've sort of been overrated a little bit".
The Storm finished six points clear of the Sydney Roosters in the minor premiership and recorded huge wins over Brisbane (42-12), Manly (40-6) and Souths (64-6) late in the year.
"I know they finished a long way in front in the premiership ladder, but if you look at their two finals games I think they were pretty fortunate in both," said Gould, a two-time premiership-winning coach.
"Parramatta should have beaten them on that day.
"You've got to be really physical, you've got to hold on to the ball. You've got to make sure they get it at their own end of the field and you've just got to be relentless on them.
"Don't get me wrong, they're the best team in the competition - but they're not unbeatable."
Smith hit back at Gould's criticism at yesterday's traditional captains' press conference, saying the Storm weren't interested in external opinions.
"People were saying that our side may be one of the greatest sides they've seen," he said.
"We win by a couple of points against Parramatta and then all of a sudden they found a way to beat our side. Thoughts and opinions, they change that quickly, it's not funny.
"So we don't even bother listening to too much outside of our four walls."
So we don't even bother listening to too much outside of our four walls"
Storm captain Cameron Smith
Smith, though, did admit the Storm had struggled at certain points in both their finals games.
"We've done what we've needed to do to win, to be honest," he said.
"Parramatta, they come with quite a willing game plan against us. They threw everything they had at us. We struggled a little bit there with Cameron Munster in the sin bin.
"We were lucky to scrape away with a win.
"Again, in the fortnight's time when we played against the Broncos, our first half wasn't particularly good, especially in attack.
"We made some crucial errors and turned over a lot of cheap football to the Broncos.
"But in the second half we really knuckled down on what we needed to do and finished the game strongly."
Gould's criticism came after he angered Cronulla fans earlier in the year for claiming the Sharks' drought-breaking 2016 NRL premiership came in what "ended up being a fairly soft competition".