Cowboys halfback Johnathan Thurston against the Titans in Round 26.

Storm v Cowboys: The final word

This is finals football of the highest order. The team favoured for the premiership against the team with the best chance at going back-to-back in 20 years meet in arguably the most anticipated of this week's NRL Telstra Premiership Finals games. 

The on-field action will be tough, tactical and highly entertaining, while much the same can be said of both Paul Green and Craig Bellamy's statements in the lead-up.

 

Storm coach Craig Bellamy on…

Last year's preliminary final loss: "There were some things that we probably got out of that game that we saw that we had to change, we had to improve. I think it was a circumstance you come across in your career every now and then where you realise that 'you have to change and you have to improve this', and that was a nudge to say 'the line we're traveling at the moment, we just have to go a little bit of a different line'. We had a look at that in our review at the end of last season and made some changes in our pre-season and in the early part of the season. It was one of those games where we realised we had to change a few things about our club and about our team, and the way we went about some things."

Possible changes to the 17 this weekend: "It hasn't been easy, which is nice actually. Early in the year the big decision was who to try to find to put in. The guys did a great job last week so there were plenty of ticks for the 17 last week. Having Nelson [Asofa-Solomona] back after the week suspension throws another iron into the fire, but I think we've sorted out who we're going to go with. The guys who did a good job last week, we're going to see them in a really good light. "

Maintaining the energy from last week: "It's basically about how we train and the mentalities this week [toward] what we need to do. Certainly the training session has been a bit lighter this week, but [the team] has been very upbeat and very intense, so hopefully we can transfer that to the game tomorrow night. "

Cowboys coach Paul Green on…

Taumalolo's egg-throwing incident: "The team has dealt with it and the club is dealing with it. As a group we've dealt with it and we're moving on and getting ready for the game. He's pretty contrite about it. If you know him as a kid he's a pretty polite, humble young kid. He's pretty disappointed in himself and he feels he has probably let his teammates down a little bit. The only way, if he's fair dinkum, to show that he's sorry about it is to go out there and play well on Saturday night."

The energy in the squad: "I think part of that slump (in Rounds 22 and 23) was probably that we felt comfortable with where we were on the ladder and probably had one eye on the finals; that's hard not to do. But I think now that finals have finally come around there is a bit more of a spring in the boys' step and we are looking forward to a good game."

The Storm being a better side than last year: "It's basically the same team in terms of players, but having another year under their belt together, their combinations are better, I think they're defending better, and I think they're probably a bit more motivated than they were last year. I think they were pretty disappointed with how they bowed out – it just happened to be against us – so I think that's probably been burning away in them all year, and it has showed with how they've played. They have certainly been a better defensive team."

 

 
Injury updates: The Storm have no injuries to speak of, while North Queensland's Matt Scott has been cleared to play after passing a fitness test on Friday. There were concerns about Johnathan Thurston's calf earlier in the week but they were quashed on Wednesday.