Third grand final loss not a curse: Finucane
The Telstra Premiership Grand Final loss to the Sharks hurt everyone at the Melbourne Storm, but perhaps no player was stung more than lock forward Dale Finucane.
While some of his teammates tasted success in 2012 – coincidentally against Finucane's former side the Bulldogs – the 25-year-old was chasing his first premiership after also falling at the final hurdle against the Rabbitohs in 2014.
The workhorse lock again got through a mountain of defence on Sunday night and refused to label himself as 'cursed' following his third grand final loss in the space of five seasons.
Instead, he pinned the 14-12 loss on Cronulla's ferocious start that saw them dominate both possession and territory for the first half, before using their fresher legs to score late in the game to secure their first grand final win in club history.
"It's hard to put them in order in terms of what hurts the most, but this is the grand final that I've had most involvement in so it hurts like the rest of them," he told NRL.com.
"I don't think it's a curse or anything like that. It just comes down to how the Sharks started and how they forced us to make a lot of tackles. That drained the energy out of us and zapped our energy in attack.
"I can't explain how disappointed I am at the moment. The Sharks just started faster than us.
"They got out of the blocks hard and they had a lot more possession at the start of the game and forced a few repeat sets which made it hard for us to get into the contest.
"It's really hard to come back from something like that, but I'm really proud of everyone's efforts to get so close."
"It still hasn't quite sunk in at the moment that we've lost the game so I don't know what the next week will bring us.
"We'll go back into the club and do our reviews. I don't know if we'll look at the game but we'll review the season individually and as a team and start getting ready for 2017."
In what was a breakout year, Finucane featured in all but one of Melbourne's 27 matches in 2016, establishing himself as one of the most consistent lock forwards in the game.
Averaging almost 125 metres and 35 tackles per game, Finucane credited his move south from the Bulldogs at the end of 2014 as one of the turning points in his career.
Finucane started just 14 of his 66 matches in blue and white, compared to 46 run-on appearances in the 50 games he's played at the Storm.
"Having the opportunity to play more minutes has allowed me to develop my game,' he explained.
"My game time has increased every year that I've played. With more minutes comes more workload and that's something that I'm always happy to pick up."
One of the reasons behind his extra minutes was Melbourne's crippling injury toll throughout various stages of the season.
Rather than seeing it as a negative, the Country Origin representative turned the setbacks into a positive, praising his side for their resilience to fight through the tough times.
"At the start of the year we had a lot of injuries to our outside backs, and then our forwards started going down in the middle stages of the year,' he said.
"That gave chances to guys like Suliasi Vunivalu and Cheyse Blair to step in, and that's the biggest thing we've shown this year. Through our resilience, the next guy up has always delivered and played the same role.
"It mightn't have been ideal, but that will have us in good stead going forward."