The mind games are well underway ahead of Saturday's Storm-Cowboys clash, with North Queensland coach Paul Green sharing his concerns as his side heads south for Saturday night's contest in Melbourne.
Ruck interpretation was the hot topic in Green's final media call ahead of the AAMI Park blockbuster, with the Cowboys mentor stating his worry with the rulings surrounding this crucial area of the game.
For years the Storm have held the reputation as the league's best at controlling the tempo of a game, while the Cowboys are known for flashy, high-scoring, attractive football played at a high pace.
And for Green, therein lies the problem.
Earlier in the week he told media his side would work on ruck-controlling tactics throughout the build-up to the qualifying final, but said he hoped Melbourne's reputation would not allow for an unwarranted stalling of the game.
"Probably my biggest worry is how the refs interpret the ruck," Green said on Friday.
"They're very good at controlling the ruck, Melbourne, so as long as [the referees] are consistent on both sides… That's probably my biggest worry."
Green may have landed the first blow, but Melbourne captain Cameron Smith will be sure to plead his case on the pitch on Saturday night.
Armed with a neutral tone, proper body language and the uncanny ability to separate emotion from discussions with referees, the Storm skipper's reputation as the ultimate negotiator seems to grow by the year.
Smith will be one of the main players operating around Green's point of contention, as Saturday plays out as something of a political battle.
"Call it what you want, they're very good at controlling the speed of the play-the-ball and very good at controlling the tempo of the game," Green said when asked if the Storm still wrestle.
"Whether or not they get away with it, that's up to the refs. I just hope the refs are consistent both ways with their interpretation of the ruck.
"If that's the way the game's going to be reffed then we want to be afforded the same latitude."
Having come away from AAMI Park with a ticket to last year's grand final – and of course going on to win the decider – the Cowboys mentor said his side had more confidence in their abilities in 2016.
"There is, we're a little more confident this year," he said.
"That belief is certainly there, having been through what we went through last year, but we also know that doesn't count for much if you don’t go out there and get it done on game day.
"While we have that experience to draw on, we know it's a big task ahead of us."
Game on. Data off.
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