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What a way to finish the premiership rounds ... and what a Finals series we have in store!

The last round of 2018 was memorable in so many ways.

The big win by the Roosters to wrest the minor premiership from the Storm. That's their fourth minor premiership in six years. An amazing feat.

Then there was the Broncos securing a home final with their big win over Manly.

It was the closest finish to a competition ever with the top four teams all finishing on 34 points and the next four teams finishing on 32 points. There is no sporting code in Australia which produces such a close competition.

But most of all the weekend will be remembered for Johnathan Thurston's last game.

And, not surprisingly, he made sure he went out with a win and a man of the match performance.

It is testament to JT's stature in the game that his last game attracted a record pay television audience, not just for a Rugby League game, but for any sport in Australia!

His finale also attracted a sellout crowd to Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast where even the Titans fans were cheering him on.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

It is hard to imagine watching the Cowboys go around without JT and we will miss his skills in 2019.

We will also miss a group of other top line players who are retiring this year.

Names like Billy Slater, Sam Thaiday, Luke Lewis, Jason Nightingale, Ryan Hoffman and Chris Heighington. And, of course, Simon Mannering who joined the celebrated 300-game club.

Those players – and the other retiring players in 2018 – have given us so much excitement and pleasure over so many years and we thank them for their service to the game.

They contributed to a stellar year in which we increased our television audience, our crowds and memberships. And we are in a better financial position than ever before.

So now we move to the finals which will be held in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

The great thing about this year's finals is that any team can win. No one can pick a winner of any match with any certainty. And that makes for compelling viewing.

These Finals are also historic because they will be the last played at Allianz before it is knocked down and rebuilt.

It means we will have the opportunity to use the new Western Sydney Stadium at Parramatta for big matches next year. And, of course, the new stadium at Townsville will be ready in 2020. And I have no doubt those venues will lead to a further lift in attendances.

Finally, I can advise that we are well advanced with the draw for 2019. It is a long and difficult process but we are determined to release it in October so fans have plenty of time to plan for next season.

A big thank you to the many fans – nearly 3 million at the grounds and 100 million watching on television - for your support this year. Enjoy the Finals... we are in for an exciting few weeks.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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