Sharks have plenty of bite, says Storm star
COOPER Cronk says the 26-6 win by Melbourne Storm over the Cronulla Sharks in round 26 will have no bearing on next week's grand final between the two sides.
The Storm was a comfortable winner in round 26 in the game which decided the minor premiership, but Cronk said it would all come down to who performed on the day to see who would walk off with the Provan-Summons trophy and the NRL title.
The Sharks upset Melbourne in round four, to begin a record 15-game winning streak, and Cronk said the ledger was even.
"They got us early on in the year so it's 1-1 in that regard,” he told reporters.
"When it comes down to grand finals, it's whoever handles the occasion the best, goes out and executes their game plan to the best.
"They're normally the ones that come out on top.”
The Sharks have only been in three grand finals in their history, in 1973, 1978 and 1997 (in the Super League era).
But while it's been a long time between drinks for Cronulla, Cronk, who played his 300th NRL game in the win over the Canberra Raiders in Saturday's preliminary final, said with the likes of Ben Barba, James Maloney, Michael Ennis, Matt Prior, Luke Lewis and Chris Heighington all playing in grand final sides, they were a dangerous proposition in the decider.
"(They have) mobile, strong forwards, athleticism on the edges, and some smart creative halves,” he said.
"That's what grand finals are all about, the best players against best players and best teams against best teams. You've got to go out there and play very well.”
Cronk was part of the 2012 Storm side which won the NRL premiership after also being involved in the two grand finals the two teams were stripped of because of salary cap rorting.
The Australian and Queensland star said 2016 team was every bit as good as that from four years ago and might even be better with the addition of Cameron Munster, Suliasi Vunivalu, Marika Koroibete and Blake Green.
"It's pretty similar in terms of its playing roster, but we're also rock solid through our middle defence, we've also got some athleticism on the edges,” he said.
"It's pretty similar to the Cronulla team, to be honest.”