SYDNEY: Key match-ups in Sunday’s NRL grand final between Melbourne and Parramatta at ANZ Stadium:
JARRYD HAYNE (Eels) v BILLY SLATER (Storm).The marquee match-up of the grand final, where the winner may claim not only a premiership ring, but also first dibs on the Australian No.1 jumper for the upcoming Four-Nations series. Hayne has been magnificent, and without doubt the Eels would have finished the season battling it out for the wooden spoon had he not produced a succession of amazing performances over the back half of the season. He can do it all – run, kick, pass – and all with a dash of flair and grace. Slater has been dynamic in the finals with six tries from two matches. He adds the unpredictability to an otherwise methodical approach, with his chip and chase last week the equal of anything Hayne has produced in 2009.
FUIFUI MOIMOI (Eels) v BRETT WHITE (Storm).If this is how he plays with a cracked rib, then Eels coach Daniel Anderson may well get a few of his forwards to lay the boot into his rib cage during next year’s pre-season. It has been all crash, bam, thank-you mam with Moimoi the last month, with the Tongan torpedo constantly drawing three and four defenders to bring him down. White isn’t nearly as destructive, but he too provides the platform for a superstar backline to strut their stuff. The Bulldogs tried to bash Moimoi out of the game in the early exchanges last week, but he just kept carting it up, meaning White and company will need to sustain their aggression for the full 80 minutes.
DANIEL MORTIMER (Eels) v BRETT FINCH (Storm)
It’s amazing to think Mortimer would most probably still be playing in the Toyota Cup had it not been for Eels coach Daniel Anderson telling Finch none too subtly that he was no longer required after four rounds of the season. Since then Mortimer has come up with a series of performances which saw him just pipped for rookie of the year honours by Jamal Idris, while Finch has found a place where he is loved south of the border. Mortimer’s presence helps take some of the pressure off star fullback Jarryd Hayne, while Finch’s greatest asset to the Storm may be that his presence allows Greg Inglis to play out in the centres, a position where he’s the best in the world.- AAP