Finals are cut-throat in nature and are therefore often won by the smallest of margins, but it isn’t always your team’s best player that will get you over the line.
While talk is rife that Tom Trbojevic, Nathan Cleary, Ryan Papenhuyzen or Cody Walker will decide the fate of their teams, sometimes it is the unexpected players that can win you a final.
The Inner Sanctum looks at your teams most underrated weapon that will play a big role in this year’s finals series.
Harry Grant – 13 games, 5 tries, 8 try assists, 8 line breaks, 402 tackles, 1,312 running metres
The Storm’s pair of dummy-half’s provides a dangerous look heading into finals, but when Craig Bellamy inserts Harry Grant against a tiring opposition forward pack the Storm look revitalised.
Grant has had the sixth most dummy-half runs in the league with 105, but he is at his dynamic best when the ball is played with pace and he beats the tired markers, opening up the play for his dynamic outside backs.
If Bellamy can pull the trigger at the right time, Grant could quickly take the game away from his opponents and prove to be the difference in a tight final.
Isaah Yeo – 21 games, 2 tries, 31 tackle breaks, 709 tackles, 2045 running metres
The Panthers skipper is the vital cog in the Panthers machine, with his ball-playing ability allowing his halves combination of Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai to become more dangerous on the outside.
Yeo is not only a weapon on the offensive side of the ball, but his defensive prowess is also another feature of his game that is pivotal to the Panthers success.
He has laid 709 tackles at 97.7 per cent efficiency helping to turn the ball over in prime field position.
While Yeo’s role will be understated watch him make the pivotal pass or tackle that could help his team over the line.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Cameron Murray – 17 games, 5 tries, 33 tackle breaks, 611 tackles, 2027 running metres
The Rabbitohs lock has continued his good form into 2021, but the pressure will be on him as he helps cover the absence of fullback Latrell Mitchell.
Murray’s ball-playing ability has let Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker be more expansive playmakers all season, but with an inexperienced Blake Taaffe at fullback Murray will need to take it to another level.
If he can be in and amongst it on the offensive side of the ball and maintain his defensive standards it will go a long way to helping the Rabbitohs hold the trophy aloft come the end of the year.
Manly Sea Eagles
Jason Saab – 24 games, 23 tries, 5 try assists, 33 tackle breaks, 2877 running metres
The 20-year-old winger has had a career-best season since moving from the Dragons, and has become a lethal one-two punch with fullback Tom Trbojevic.
Of his 23 tries this season, he has only managed to score one try when Trbojevic hasn’t played, further highlighting the dangerous duo they are.
While any opponent will be focussing on containing Trbojevic, Saab could quickly become a headache.
It’s not only his try scoring prowess that is a weapon for the Sea Eagles, his incredible speed on the defensive end means he can reel in break away runners with ease.
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Angus Crichton – 18 games, 9 tries, 576 tackles, 2643 running metres
While he isn’t the flashiest player in the Roosters squad, Angus Crichton provides a lot of grunt when is fit and firing.
Described by coach Trent Robinson as “a player you have to tackle with multiple players”, Crichton moves the ball up the field with force.
With key players missing for this year’s finals campaign, Crichton’s efforts will be required to help find and maintain good field position.
Reagan Campbell-Gillard – 18 games, 4 tries, 20 tackle breaks, 2581 running metres
The Eels prop will return from injury just in time from the finals and he could prove to be the point of difference.
Campbell-Gillard moves the ball with force through the middle of the field and draws multiple defenders opening it up for the Eels more creative players.
If Mitch Moses can find the required time to kick, or Clint Gutherson can find space in the defensive line it will be because Campbell-Gillard hit up with force.
Mitchell Pearce – 11 games, 3 tries, 7 try assists, 7 line break assists, 885 running metres
The 300-game veteran has missed a lot of footy this season after a couple of injury setbacks.
However, he will have an opportunity to showcase every bit of his 300 games of experience after the Knights surged into seventh spot off the back of Kalyn Ponga returning to form.
Before getting injured Pearce was in vintage form both with his kicking and passing games. It isn’t a coincidence that the Knights have won eight of the 11 matches Pearce has played in.
While Ponga will be at the forefront of the opposition’s mind, Pearce will also be influential if the Knights are to go deep into finals.
Gold Coast Titans
Jayden Campbell – 6 games, 5 tries, 3 try assists, 26 tackle breaks, 984 running metres
The young fullback played the game of his career to help the Titans secure eighth spot on Sunday afternoon. He crossed the line twice, ran for 255 metres, had two line breaks, six tackle breaks and one try assist in his side’s crushing win against the Warriors.
Campbell is at his best when he is using his pace to bust through tired defences or skirting the edges drawing defenders out of position.
His lack of experience won’t matter when the whistle is blown and he has the ball in his hands.
Campbell will need to be a real x-factor if the Titans are to progress deep into the finals.