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NRL: Five players to watch in the grand final

Penrith and Parramatta both boast squads packed with quality but a handful of players could really make the difference between winning and losing when the two sides clash on Sunday.

Of course you do not make it to a grand final without playing as a team, but star individual performances also play a huge part in winning games.

Sometimes it takes that extra bit of star quality to get the job done on the biggest stage of all and both the Panthers and the Eels have that kind of player in their ranks.

Thankfully all the big guns are fit and raring to go so we will get to see the best the NRL has to offer  battling it out at Accor Stadium on Sunday.

It has all the makings of a classic grand final so let’s take a look at the five players who have the potential to stand above the rest.

Whoever is named man-of-the-match will also pick up the Clive Churchill medal and join an illustrious list of players to have won it down the years.

Nathan Cleary (Penrith)

The Panthers halfback won the Clive Churchill medal in last season’s grand final win over South Sydney and is the hot fancy to scoop it again.

Cleary was suspended for four games towards the end of the regular season and if anything it has done him the world of good.

He has come into finals as fresh as a daisy and has not lost any match sharpness despite his lack of action. The Panthers playmaker has impressed in the wins over Parramatta and South Sydney and has a habit of showing up in the biggest games.

If he gets anywhere near his best he is likely to be best on ground on Sunday. His kicking game is always on point and usually has the opposition quaking in their boots.

Mitchell Moses (Parramatta)

What Nathan Cleary is to the Panthers, Mitchell Moses is to the Eels. If Parramatta are to spring a surprise and win the grand final then the Eels halfback will need to be on top of his game.

Parramatta are just a completely different side when Moses is in it. He is ranked one of the top players in the NRL when it comes to try assists with 23 to his name.

Not only that he is lethal when it comes to slotting conversions and also likes to chip in with a few tries as well.
Moses is another player who thrives on the biggest stage and if he has a late field-goal attempt to win the game he would have the nerve to boot it.

He was outstanding in the Preliminary Final win over the North Queensland Cowboys and after just becoming a dad life could not be much better for Moses right now. A grand final win would be the icing on the cake.


 

Jahrome Luai (Penrith)

Cleary’s partner in crime in the halves, Luai has also benefited from some time out of the side because of injury.

He has shown no ill-effects in finals and is capable of making the difference on Sunday. Luai is crucial to the Panthers attack and he has chipped in with seven tries and 12 try assists already this season.

Not only that, he is awesome at breaking tackles and that is something the Eels will be well aware of. Trying to stop him is another matter though and Luai is capable of breaking the game open at any moment.

The Panthers generally win when Luai is in the side and that shows how important he is to Ivan Cleary’s side.


 

Dylan Edwards (Penrith)

The NRL is blessed with some outstanding fullbacks. James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic to name a few.

But Edwards has to be up there with them following an outstanding 2022 campaign. Indeed he is the hot fancy to be named Dally M fullback of the year.

The amount of running metres he clocks up is staggering. He ran 240 metres from 24 carries in the win over Souths at the weekend.

He was crucial as the Panthers came from 12-0 down to beat the Rabbitohs and will be again against the Eels.


 

Clint Gutherson (Parramatta)

Gutherson is another star fullback and has shown his class this season with 14 tries and 18 try assists.

Not only that the Eels skipper is a great leader and certainly leads by example out on the pitch.

The Eels have beaten Penrith on two out of three occasions this season and Gutherson scored a try in each of those games, so he knows how to find a way through the Panthers defence.
He has had 83 tackle breaks this season and he will be a huge threat to the Panthers on Sunday.

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