Grand final winner Michael Ennis says the back three of the Sydney Roosters and the Melbourne Storm forward pack loom prospective trump cards in Sunday's Telstra Premiership grand final.
Ennis, who played an important role in Cronulla's history-making win over Melbourne in the 2016 decider, predicted the ANZ Stadium showdown would be a low-scoring contest.
The way James Tedesco, Blake Ferguson and Daniel Tupou have performed this year has taken a huge load off the shoulders of a relatively inexperienced Roosters pack.
"The Roosters' back three – Daniel Tupou, Blake Ferguson and Tedesco – have been superb all season and they've caused so much damage carrying the ball. They take so much pressure off their middle forwards, who aren't as experienced as the Storm's big men," Ennis told this week's edition of Big League magazine.
"They get so much benefit with Tupou and Ferguson making metres out of their own end. Tedesco has this wonderful ability to make his way through defensive lines and break tackles at will, giving the Roosters momentum.
"Tedesco has been the form player of the competition since the halfway mark of the season, and he's set to claim the Australian No.1 jersey at the end of the year. Their back three are as good as any in the competition."
Ennis said the manner in which the Storm pack has handled most of the challenges that have come their way in 2018 puts them in good stead heading into the decider.
"The challenge for the Roosters is their forward pack matching it with the Storm," Ennis told Big League.
"Melbourne have been so clinical in the back-end of the season, especially last week against Cronulla. They've got guys like Jesse Bromwich, Dale Finucane, Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Felise Kaufusi, who have been enormous for them this year.
"The Roosters pack will have to halt these guys, because if the Storm get momentum, they'll strike through some dangerous players."
While Ennis looked at the men who will decide Sunday's grand final, Broncos premiership winner Petero Civoniceva provided an insight into what the players go through.
He said the nerves are there as soon as the eyes open on the Sunday morning of the game. That ramps up further when the team departs for the stadium.
"When you step onto the bus, it all hits you – you realise you're only moments away from the biggest game of your career. There's usually a police escort, which is pretty cool. When you hear the horns beeping and the see the fans waving flags out their car windows, you know how special the occasion is," he said.
"When you get into the stadium, you hop off the bus and you're greeted by TV cameras – it's very exciting.
"When the two-minute bell rings, it's game time. As you walk down the tunnel, you sight the opposition and walk out side-by-side. It's awesome.
"When you finally run out onto the field, the roar of the crowd hits you like nothing else. I've played games for both my state and country, but running out for a grand final is the best feeling."
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