A few short months ago, we had some very real doubts about ever making it this far, but here we are, NRL Grand Final week. The Melbourne Storm have become almost a regular fixture on NRL's biggest day, but the Panthers are lining up for their first since 2003. Will experience see them home over the Panthers' raw enthusiasm?
Sunday, October 25
Storm: 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Brenko Lee 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Nelson Asofa-Solomona
Reserves: 14. Brandon Smith 15. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui 16. Dale Finucane 17. Nicholas Hynes 18. Tom Eisenhuth 19. Paul Momirovski 20. Tui Kamikamica 21. Ryley Jacks
Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 14. Tyrone May 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To'o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo
Reserves: 3. Brent Naden 15. Kurt Capewell 16. Moses Leota 17. Zane Tetevano 18. Mitch Kenny 19. Dean Whare 20. Matt Burton 21. Spencer Leniu
Verdict: The two best teams of the truncated 2020 season have reached the big decider. The Panthers have won just two premierships in their history, while the Storm have the three that they were allowed to keep. In the Storm's favour is a recent history of playing in the big games. Counting this weekend, they will have featured in five of the last nine Grand Finals and they will be desperate to turn their record from 2-2 to 3-2. The Panthers can't even remember what it feels like to lose a game this year and will run onto ANZ Stadium full of confidence, particularly with the return of key forward Viliame Kikau. This game could be a real arm wrestle around the ruck as both teams battle for the dominance needed to release their halves. At hooker we have the fascinating battle between arguably the greatest player ever in Cameron Smith and the form rake of 2020 in Api Koroisau. Their ability to control the pace of the game will be key to the effectiveness of both attacks. Can Panthers halves Ivan Cleary and Jarome Luai maintain their coolness in the biggest game of their lives as they face Jahrome Hughes and Cameron Munster? Which fullback will shine brightest out of Dylan Edwards and Ryan Papenhuyzen? It promises to be a sensational Grand Final, with the Panthers having a slight edge in their unbridled confidence, enthusiasm and faith in each other.
Tip: Panthers by 8