New signings confirmed for grand final
Tuesday 25 September 2012 8:49 PM
Vodafone Warriors-bound duo Dane Nielsen and Todd Lowrie have today been confirmed to make farewell appearances for Melbourne in Sunday’s 2012 NRL grand final before leaving the club to move to Auckland.
Nielsen has been named in the centres and Lowrie at loose forward for the clash against the minor premiership-winning Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium (7.15pm kick-off NZ time; live on SKY Sport 2).
Nielsen and Lowrie, who will be playing in an NRL decider for the second time in their careers, help to contribute to Melbourne’s marked superiority in grand final experience.
When the two clubs confirmed their squads today only four of the Bulldogs’ chosen 17 had played in an NRL grand final before while nine of Melbourne’s players have been to the big dance before, some on multiple occasions.
Bulldogs centre Krisnan Inu and winger Sam Perrett will be the only players on the field to have appeared in either of the last two grand finals; Inu lined up for the Vodafone Warriors in their loss to Manly last year while Perrett was there with the Roosters when they were beaten by St George Illawarra in 2010. This will indeed be Inu’s third grand final in four years, each of them for different clubs with the first two ending in defeat (he was in the Parramatta side beaten by the Storm in 2009, one of two Melbourne premiership titles later expunged from the record books after salary cap breaches).
The other Canterbury-Bankstown players with NRL grand final experience are prop Aiden Tolman and interchange back rower David Stagg, Tolman with Melbourne in 2009 and Stagg in the winning Brisbane side in 2006. Former Kiwi Dene Halatau, selected as 18th man, was in the winning Wests Tigers side in 2005.
In contrast the Storm have a strong core of players who are well-versed in the grand final day environment although it might be added none of them has yet legitimately won a premiership after Melbourne was stripped of its 2007 and 2009 crowns.
Fullback Billy Slater and halfback Cooper Cronk are set to start their fifth season finale in the last seven years having appeared in each of the Storm’s final day visits to ANZ Stadium in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 while captain Cameron Smith will be back for the fourth time as will second rower Ryan Hoffman. Apart from those four and Nielsen and Lowrie, Kiwi second rower Sika Manu, centre Will Chambers and utility Ryan Hinchcliffe are preparing for their second grand final appearances.
Slater, Nielsen, Chambers, Cronk, Smith, Hoffman and Hinchcliffe were all in the last Melbourne side to play in a grand final in 2009, as was Tolman before switching to the Bulldogs. In that 2009 clash, Lowrie played for the beaten Parramatta side.
While Inu is the only survivor from last year’s NRL grand final, two of his team-mates were on the grand final stage that day, winger Jonathan Wright and standoff Josh Reynolds both playing for the Bulldogs in their New South Wales Cup triumph against the Auckland Vulcans.
Teams for the NRL grand final are:
BULLDOGS: Ben Barba, Sam Perrett, Josh Morris, Krisnan Inu, Jonathan Wright, Josh Reynolds, Kris Keating, Aiden Tolman, Mick Ennis, Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard, Josh Jackson, Greg Eastwood. Interchange (from):James Graham, Dale Finucane, Corey Payne, David Stagg, Dene Halatau
STORM: Billy Slater, Sisa Waqa, Dane Nielsen, Will Chambers, Justin O'Neill, Gareth Widdop, Cooper Cronk, Jessie Bromwich, Cameron Smith, Bryan Norrie, Sika Manu, Ryan Hoffman, Todd Lowire. Interchange (from): Ryan Hinchcliffe, Kevin Proctor, Jaiman Lowe, Richie Fa'aoso, Rory Kostjayson, Mahe Fonua, Siosaia Vave, Anthony Quinn
TELSTRA PREMIERSHIP GRAND FINAL DAY
10:00am - Gates Open – Telstra Grand Final Precinct
11:45am - Gates Open – ANZ Stadium
12:05pm - Kick-off - VB NSW Cup Grand Final
2:00pm - Kick-off - Toyota Cup Grand Final
4:35pm - Pre-match Entertainment
4:50pm - ‘Good Charlotte’ Perform
5:12pm - Grand Final Teams Entry
5:14pm - National Anthem - Sarah De Bono
5:15pm - Kick-off - NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final
7:00pm - Post-game Presentation followed by lap of honour