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NRL grand final match up: Billy Slater v James Tedesco

This is a massive match-up between two representative stars - one finishing his career and another in the middle of a maiden grand final campaign after switching clubs in the pre-season.

Will Billy Slater play? Can the Melbourne Storm find enough evidence to have him cleared of a shoulder charge at the judiciary on Tuesday night?

Slater is facing a grade one charge which could end his career and rule him out of arguably one of the biggest games in the club's history with back-to-back premierships on the cards.

On the other side, can James Tedesco win a premiership in his first season at the Roosters after years of struggling campaigns at the Wests Tigers?

The pair have squared off on eight occasions across club and representative football with Slater holding an upper hand with six wins.

"He's the best fullback in the game," Tedesco told NRL.com of Slater in the lead-up to the decider.

"Watching him as a kid, he was fast and agile. He had that speed and the way he developed his game defensively and ball-playing is something I've tried to base my game around.

"He's been the best."

Tedesco weighs in on Slater charge

Both players have timed their season to perfection and put the foot down at the right end of the year.

Many experts had Tedesco ahead of Slater for the Wally Lewis Medal after a strong State of Origin campaign for NSW, but the Storm veteran came out on top in July according to the judges.

Tedesco's move from the Tigers came with an early adjustment period at his new club but his last three months of football has been among his best.

He goes into Sunday's game with six try assists in his past three games and leads the competition in tackle breaks with 157 to go with 186 running metres per game.

While his attacking statistics are dominant, the 25-year-old's biggest asset has been his cover defence in the last month with just one missed tackle in four games – a trait Slater has prided himself on over the years.

Slater made a quiet start to the year in attack, totalling just two line breaks in his first 13 games this season.

Like Tedesco, the Storm veteran sparked into form over the Origin period and has produced six try assists in his last seven games, also scoring two tries himself in a stunning performance against Cronulla last week. 

Regardless of the judiciary result, both Slater and Tedesco find themselves at opposite ends of their Telstra Premiership careers leading into the big clash with the Roosters fullback in line to replace Slater in the Australian Test team.

Only one fairy tale story can be told on Sunday.

 

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