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Wing: Storm experience advantage won't be major factor

Melbourne have an overwhelming numerical advantage when it comes to grand final experience over the Roosters but I wouldn't say that necessarily gives them much of an edge.

The Roosters have five players remaining from their 2013 premiership win whereas the Storm could have as many as 13 of last year's grand final team run out on Sunday.

Experience is most relevant for the key decision makers on the field. Grand finals happen so quickly.

From kick-off it's high intensity then all of a sudden the game's over.

In a grand final, experience shows in key moments and more often that not, key moments revolve around decision-making players in the spine.

The players in the 1, 6, 7 and 9 jerseys provide that steady hand when the arm wrestle is on and fatigue has settled in, or the precision and composure required delivering the big play - whether to run, pass or kick. Whether to play late into the line because the opposition in on the back foot, or early because you need to get through your sets and build momentum.

Whatever it may be, decisions need to constantly be made and direction needs to be given. When we won the grand final in 2002 we had the same spine as the one we lost in 2000 (Luke Phillips, Simon Bonetti and Brad Fittler) except for me in the halves, partnering our spiritual leader Freddie.

Keary excited for Munster challenge

When we look across the spine of the two teams, whilst the Storm have a new age superstar in Munster and two potential future Immortals (if Billy Slater gets off at the judiciary) in their line-up, it could be argued the most significant advantage would have been handed the Roosters by way of Cooper Cronk over Brodie Croft.

Keary matches up nicely with Munster, likewise Tedesco (who has no grand final experience but has been outstanding in Origin) and Slater.

All four have singlehandedly won big games for their respective teams.

Most would argue Cameron Smith has an edge over Friend, because of the additional skills he brings, but let's not forget the Roosters captain certainly isn't short of big game experience and responsibility himself.

Cronk vs Croft is clearly where the biggest advantage would be had and Coopers experience at this end of the year has truly shone through this finals series.
For the other positions, inexperience can bring other qualities that can more than compensate.

Grand final debutants will certainly not be short of hunger, energy, effort and enthusiasm, just the ingredients an experienced spine needs from their soldiers to get the job done.

The fact that they're playing in a grand final means they will already have some big-game experience (except perhaps if the Roosters need a replacement half). They've all played finals footy, been in sudden-death situations and have finished on top. They haven't arrived at the big dance out of luck.

Inside the NRL - Grand Final Preview

They have already all showed that they can handle the occasion. They have endless energy and the adrenaline lasts a lot longer which can be just as good.

Looking back on my first grand final in 2000, I came off the bench. We were already behind but I never ran out of energy. I wish the game went for another hour or two! I felt 10 feet tall and bulletproof.

You have to make sure you don’t play the game in your head too early because you can end up a little bit flat by the time the game rolls around. There is no shortage of opinions as to why you will or will not win.

You don't want to shut out all that stuff altogether because it can be a once in a lifetime opportunity. It's what you train 11 months of the year for. My advice was always to soak it all up, enjoy it, and don't take the media side of things too seriously. 

Chambers out to get even with Latrell

Latrell Mitchell and Cameron Munster are the game breakers

If the game comes down to one or two key moments, Latrell Mitchell and Cameron Munster are two of those real X-factor players.

Latrell is going to be fit and have a tremendous amount of fire in his belly having had to sit on the sidelines against the Bunnies. He's going to have a big game. I just hope they give him a bit more of the ball so we can see his natural ability shine on the day.

I'd like to see him get the ball from a wider spread where he's more damaging. A sliding defence on a big guy like that, he can cut back on the inside or beat you on the outside.

For the Storm, Cameron Munster is going to be the man. He's a big game player who doesn't shy away from the responsibility or the contest. He possess all the skills and has the composure to match his speed strength and power. Cameron Smith is Cameron Smith, if the Storm win he'll have a big hand in it but for X-factor Cameron Munster is the one to watch out for.

My tip: Roosters by a field goal.

 

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