Finucane ends grand final hoodoo
After three heartbreaking grand final defeats, Storm lock Dale Finucane can now call himself a premiership winner after Melbourne tore apart the Cowboys with a 34-6 shellacking at ANZ Stadium.
Having lost the 2012 and 2014 deciders as a Bulldog as well as last year's NRL Telstra Grand Final against Cronulla with the Storm, Finucane could have been excused for thinking that he was cursed.
Instead, he was more focussed on trying to send departing teammates Cooper Cronk, Tohu Harris, Jordan McLean and Slade Griffin out in style, denying he had even mulled over his horror record in grand finals.
"It's so surreal. It's the best feeling ever!" a jubilant Finucane said in the Storm sheds.
"To be able to do it with this bunch of blokes – obviously we've got some guys that are moving on next year – so to do it for them, it's a rare opportunity and we'll never do it again with the same group of blokes.
"I said during the week that I've been lucky enough just to be involved in three prior to this one, so I definitely don't take it for granted. To finally win one – and with this group of lads – it's just so surreal and I'm so happy.
"It's not something that I thought about. Every year is unique and it's a different group of boys that you play with each year so it wasn't something that dwelled on my mind."
Sunday's win ends a lengthy drought for Finucane in grand finals that dates back to 2009 when the Bulldogs claimed the S.G. Ball Cup, ironically against the Storm.
"When I was playing with the Bulldogs, we won the SG Ball under-18s grand final, funnily enough against the Melbourne Storm," he said.
"That's probably my last grand final win, but to win one in the NRL is a memory I'll have with this group of boys for the rest of my life."
Finucane had a typically productive night with 121 metres and 34 tackles, but it was his 64th-minute try that was his most telling contribution and proved to be the straw that broke the Cowboys' back.
"I gave Smithy (Cameron Smith) the eyes about hitting me short and I just really wanted to be sure of it," he said.
"I didn't slam it down or anything like that; I just cradled it to the ground to make sure it was going down. That's such a surreal feeling, and to have so many supporters at the game cheering, it's a feeling I can't explain."
The tireless lock forward epitomises the sort of player Craig Bellamy brings to the club and then turns into a star, and Finucane's form over the past three years has many people calling on Australian selectors to pick him in their World Cup squad.
"It's not really [on my mind]," he said when asked about Kangaroos selection.
"It's something I'd love to be a part of and I'd love to play that at some point in my career, but I'm just so happy about tonight. This hasn't sunk in for me just yet."
Should he be picked in Mal Meninga's squad, the 26-year-old can expect to come up against Cowboys counterpart Jason Taumalolo in the New Zealand side.
Touted as the best forward in the game, the one-man wrecking ball was limited to just 124 metres – his worst return this season – as Melbourne's methodical pack worked as one to cut down his influence on the game.
Finucane said there were no special ploys to cut down Taumalolo's time with the ball but was proud of his teammates for the way in which they shut him down from start to finish.
"I don't know if there's any secret," he shrugged.
"There's no secret that he's their most damaging ball-runner and I guess we decided to do our best to try to contain him throughout the game.
"I don't know what to put it down to, but we did well to contain him tonight."