The Clive Churchill Medal has gone around the necks of some of the greats of the game over the past 34 years.
From inaugural winner Peter Sterling to the likes of Allan Langer, Andrew Johns, Darren Lockyer and Greg Inglis, the medal has always attracted plenty of interest.
Players from the Storm and Panthers will go to sleep on Saturday night and dream of premiership glory. A few will add being the recipient of the CIive Churchill Medal to their ideal scenario.
Will a player from a winning side take receive the award, or will there be a repeat of the years when the likes of Badley Clyde, Brad Mackay, Daly Cherry-Evans and Jack Wighton were recognised after strong performances in losing sides?
All will be revealed shortly after full-time on Sunday night.
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Cameron Smith will put on a master class in what will probably be the last game of his career. I'm backing him to lead his team to another grand final win and also be judged player of the match.
Jahrome Hughes. He was outstanding last week. If Penrith take their eye off him and focus on the other three (Munster, Smith and Papenhuyzen) he could be in for a big night.
Isaah Yeo has had a stellar season and it would not surprise if he finished with the medal around his neck following from last week’s second-half surge against the Rabbitohs.
Nothing that James Fisher-Harris does on the field could be termed "pretty" but it's always pretty effective - you can lock it in now that he will make a mountain of tackles, plenty of hit-ups so if he can just jag a lovely little line break or set up a try, he could catch the judges' eyes.
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Cameron Smith has had an incredible season this year leading a team that has overcome significant challenges to make the grand final. He made some game-changing plays last weekend and I expect that same commitment this weekend.
Grand final narratives tend to shape a lot of Clive Churchill Medal decisions so it’ll be a surprise if either Cameron Smith in what's likely his final Storm appearance or Nathan Cleary after being narrowly beaten in Dally M voting don't take it out. I'll go with Smith and a Storm win.
Cameron Munster. Cam Smith will control the contest if Melbourne are to win it, but Munster will be the one breaking it wide open. Twice the player he was in 2018 when everything went wrong on grand final day – serious motivation right there for one of the NRL's most competitive beasts.
Nathan Cleary missed out on the Dally M but he will make amends by winning the Clive Churchill Medal after leading Penrith to their first premiership since 2003.
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Cameron Munster already has his sights on the Clive Churchill Medal and he should win it with a typically dominant display at five-eighth. Look for Munster to take the line on against the Panthers and assert his authority.
I’ve tipped the Storm to win the game so I’ll tip Cameron Smith to finish his career with a fairytale, adding in the last trophy missing from his overflowing cabinet.
Ryan Papenhuyzen. The livewire Storm fullback will break the grand final open to be crowned best on ground. He's had a fantastic season and hopefully for him the best is yet to come.
Then there were two
Jarome Luai. Halves have a pretty high strike rate for the Clive Churchill – even if they’re on the losing side (think Jack Wighton, Daly Cherry-Evans). Luai's ad-lib football and infectious energy make him a prime candidate.
Cameron Smith, the man who has stood tall countless times on the big stage, will guide Melbourne to another premiership and add a Clive Churchill Medal to his already bulging trophy cabinet. Smith’s guile and experience will trump the Panthers' youthful exuberance.
Match: Panthers v Storm
Grand Final -
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Nathan Cleary has been the best halfback and most consistent player all season and I expect his form to continue by icing the big moments in the decider. Throughout the year the Panthers halfback has risen to every challenge and I expect him to rise to the occasion on the game's biggest stage.
Cameron Smith will complete his retirement tour with the ultimate quinella; a premiership and the Clive Churchill medal. He is the game’s greatest player. It’s his (potential) final game. Enough said.
The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.