Up you go: The Melbourne Storm's Tohu Harris experiences some heavy lifting during his side's clash with Canterbury. Photo: Getty Images
For Melbourne Storm, this is the week of the crazy eights. The Storm has an 8-8 record, sits in eighth place and has eight games left to play.
For the first time in several seasons it faces the prospect of not making the finals but, in fairness, the Storm also still has a chance at making the top four if it can win the majority of its remaining matches.
In a season where the Storm's form has regularly been called "inconsistent" and "frustrating", Saturday's clash with the Canberra Raiders at AAMI Park needs to be the start of a return to traditional values.
For the Storm that means winning matches and contending for the premiership.
Storm football manager Frank Ponissi believes his club's record is a reflection of the club's roller coaster season.
"Right now our performances have been 50-50 and that is where our record is and where we are on the ladder," Ponissi said.
"That is us and the results don't lie.
"We know if we string wins together we will end up higher, and if we continue like we have then we will finish eighth or even outside the finals."
The Storm has almost its full playing list available and gave veteran state of origin stars Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Ryan Hoffman four days leave to rest after the origin series finished.
All three have been named to face the Raiders, who beat the Storm in Canberra earlier this season and have won at their past three visits to AAMI Park.
With lively full-back Anthony Milford and a host of tricky players in their side, the Raiders will ask some big questions of the Storm.
Ponissi said the challenge had been put to the Storm to match last round's impressive defensive performance against the Canterbury Bulldogs while also creating regular scoring opportunities.
"Our coach Craig Bellamy has challenged the players to back it up this week. Last match was by far our best defensive performance of the season," Ponissi said.
The NRL has dubbed this weekend as the "RiseForAlex" round with the league raising money for injured Newcastle forward Alex McKinnon who fractured two vertebrae in his neck while playing against the Storm earlier this season.
McKinnon is still in a wheelchair but has pledged to do everything he can to walk again.
The NRL will donate a dollar for every supporter who attends a game while supporters can also buy a #RiseforAlex wristband at matches.
The Knights will also host a special concert for McKinnon at their home game on Sunday.
The Storm's Smith and North Queensland superstar Jonathan Thurston will also both ditch their usual number and wear McKinnon's No. 16 this weekend. Ponissi said he hoped Melbourne fans flocked to the game.
McKinnon's injury also hit the Storm hard with young forward Jordan McLean suspended for seven matches for his part in the tackle that left McKinnon injured.
"I'd say we did it tough early, I can't say that it didn't effect us. It effected the players and effected the staff - it has to," Ponissi said.
"But we are really, really conscious not to make that too public because sympathy should all be with Alex, his family and the Newcastle club. We didn't want to be distract from that.
"But one thing the boys have done really well is rallied around Macca [Jordan McLean] - we just stayed tight.
"I think our club and our players have handled this difficult situation brilliantly."
Hoffman said the players would do everything they could to support RiseForAlex and he also hoped it would push the game to better support all players who suffer career-ending injuries.
"It's a great what the NRL is doing with RiseForAlex and I hope its a catalyst for the NRL to push to help a lot of injured players who unfortunately had to retire due to injury," Hoffman said.
"We are all quite happy to support it so he gets all the funding he needs to get himself right."
Hoffman said players such as Simon Dwyer, Liam Fulton and others whose careers ended due to injury should not be forgotten with the game needing better insurance and support mechanisms for such injuries.
"I think everyone from the NRL to the ARLPA need to all come together and look after the players who have had retire due to injury," Hoffman said.
"It's a whole of rugby league issue; not just an NRL or players association issue."