Smith excited by challenge of replacing Vunivalu

Joining the reigning premiers is tough enough, but Reimis Smith wants the added challenge of replacing one of the game's great finishers at the Melbourne Storm.

The former Bulldog is jostling to claim the wing position vacated by towering Fijian Suliasi Vunivalu, who has defected to rugby.

Vunivalu's incredible record of 86 tries from 111 games for the Storm, with whom he won the 2017 and 2020 titles, stands up in any era.

Smith, who played 49 games for Canterbury and is now competing for a spot with the likes of George Jennings and Isaac Lumelume, is aiming to step into Vunivalu's massive boots.

"It's very exciting, I can't wait to hopefully get the opportunity round one ... I believe [I can play the role]," Smith, 23, said on Friday.

"One of my attributes is catching those high balls, cross-field kicks - it's my bread and butter, really. I strongly believe in myself and I think I can fill that hole and do a bit more," he added.

Vunivalu, who stands 192cm tall, was renowned for his aerial prowess, but Smith (196cm) could also prove a strong kick target.

While fellow recruit Jennings is among his rivals for a starting berth, Smith said he'd connected with the ex-Tiger as Sydney's COVID-19 outbreak before Christmas led to an early arrival in Melbourne.

The pair trained alongside Cooper Johns, Tom Eisenhuth and Tui Kamikamica before pre-season officially began this week.

"With Sydney with the lockdown, we came down early. I came down by myself, so did George Jennings, a couple of those blokes were already down here, so we got their numbers," Smith said,

"Me and George have become pretty close ... We came here [for pre-season] day one, we walked in together, we're next to each other in the lockers. Our relationship's getting stronger and stronger."

Jennings flew home on Thursday for the birth of his baby. Like Origin winger Josh Addo-Carr, who is also in Sydney, Jennings would currently have to quarantine for 14 days upon re-entering Melbourne.

"It's pretty tough for him [to leave], but I know for [Jennings] it's the right decision to put his family first," Smith said.

"I think everything will work out for him, hopefully."

Smith "can't wait" for Addo-Carr to start training and is elated at the prospect of playing with the Test star.

He said he's been made to feel at home by the squad and Craig Bellamy, though he hopes to delay a famous spray from the coach.

"I'm getting myself ready, I've been asking the boys what to do and how to avoid [a Bellamy rev-up]," Smith said.

"One day everyone gets it. The best thing about it is he's only trying to help me. He's not trying to get up me for doing the wrong thing. He's just trying to make me a better player and make me work harder."