Sharks halfback Nicho Hynes expects plenty of traffic and plenty of heckling when he returns to AAMI Park on Saturday and he wouldn't have it any other way.
After three years and 36 games in Storm colours, Hynes shifted north to Sydney in 2022 and has fast made a name for himself in a Cronulla side riding high on a four-game winning streak.
With all due respect to their past three opponents Wests Tigers, Newcastle and the Dragons, the Sharks know the true test of their form comes against the Storm at a ground where they have won just twice in 12 attempts.
"They will be sending a lot of traffic my way... 100 per cent they will be coming for me," Hynes said of his former team-mates.
Storm v Sharks
"I've got to prepare myself this week to be up for the challenge.
“We've got to continue to work hard and train to our best this week so we can put our best foot forward to go down there and challenge them.
"Obviously Melbourne have been the benchmark for the past however long and it will be good to go down there and challenge them and see where we are at.”
Where the Sharks are at right now is second on the ladder and playing an attacking brand of football that has their fans excited and opponents wary.
With Hynes revelling in his new playmaking role and halves partner Matt Moylan turning back the clock, the Sharks are averaging 24 points per game while also boasting the best defence in the competition.
Hynes is under no illusions, however, that their defensive resolve faces its stiffest test this weekend against a Melbourne side boasting strike weapons across the park.
Hynes the hero
"It’s going to be a tough challenge; going down to Melbourne is never an easy game," Hynes said.
"I’m expecting a tough reception from all the fans but I still love all their fans and I love all the players in the club there, too.
"It will be good to go down and see them but at the end of the day we've got a game to win and I'm going to do my absolute best to beat them and try to exploit some of the stuff that I can hopefully see this week at training.
“I really enjoyed the fans when I was on their side and they never had a bad word to say about me so I’m looking forward to going down there and seeing them.
"They might boo me during the game but after the game hopefully I can go around and say thank you for what they done down there for me because obviously the last couple years we didn’t get to play in front of them so I didn’t get a proper goodbye."
Quick fix: Sharks v Wests Tigers
With five try assists, three line breaks and 23 tackle breaks between them, Hynes and Moylan have been one of the NRL's most lethal combinations in the opening five rounds.
After playing just 34 games across the past three seasons, Moylan has rediscovered the form that carried him to Origin and Kangaroo honours in 2016, and Hynes is full of praise for the 30-year-old.
“I’m not surprised [by his form]. I knew that Moyza was a great football player," Hynes said.
"He's been a great player for a long time and played for Australia and played for his state and just been unfortunate with a couple of bad runs with injuries.
“We’re combining really well but we are not getting ahead of ourselves. He’s a great football player and he’s just a footy-head and so am I. We just want to play footy.”