Roosters v Storm: Clash of NRL dynasties
Is this the grand final that decides the best club of the NRL era?
Already, it’s the decider between the two best teams of the season. The clash of the two best defensive teams of the season.
The contest between the two best hookers of the season, Cameron Smith and Jake Friend.
But in the 21 years since the end of the Super League war, have there been two better clubs?
Melbourne’s 43 appearances in the finals is the most since the competition’s unification in 1998, while the Sydney Roosters are second with 39.
Between them they have featured in 15 of the 21 grand finals staged since the NRL era began in 1998.
Melbourne have arguably been the most consistent club since reaching the preliminary final in their inaugural season in 1998, and then claiming their maiden premiership the following year.
That was under Chris Anderson.
Craig Bellamy had Billy Slater and Cameron Smith in his first year – Cooper Cronk arrived the following season – and together they’ve won three legitimate titles.
Bellamy was presented with arguably the biggest challenge of his tenure with Cronk’s exit, however the defending premiers responded by claiming the minor premiership.
“They’ve been a great side for as long as I can remember,” Roosters co-captain Boyd Cordner told AAP.
However, while the Storm have boasted stability the envy of the league, Roosters chairman Nick Politis has lured some of the best biggest names to coach his side.
From Phil Gould, to Ricky Stuart, Graham Murray, Brian Smith and Brad Fittler, the Tri-colours have remained one of the league’s powerhouses.
It’s a strategy mirrored in their playing roster, and continued this year when they controversially sacrificed favourite son Mitchell Pearce in favour of Cronk and signed star James Tedesco.
While Cronk left Melbourne for love, the Roosters had little left for Pearce.
Yet the move has seemingly been justified with the Roosters advancing to their second grand final under Trent Robinson, who this year broke the club record for most games as coach.
Storm assistant coach Jason Ryles was part of the Roosters side that featured in the 2010 grand final, when Robinson was serving his apprenticeship under Smith.
“Robbo was the real glue for our team, back in 2010. The year before the club got the wooden spoon but we had a few recruits and managed to make the grand final,” Ryles said.
Despite the strong records of both clubs, only once have they met in the finals, when Cronk spearheaded the Storm to a dramatic 20-18 qualifying final win in 2015.
And while they finally get the chance to meet in the decider, the contest could be robbed of one of its main stars with Cronk and unlikely chance to play due to a shoulder injury.
Slater also went agonisingly close to being rubbed out of his farewell match, but overcame a shoulder charge ban during a mammoth judiciary hearing on Tuesday.
Sorry we are not currently accepting comments on this article.