THE WRAP: NRL Finals Week Three

01/10/2013

THE WRAP: NRL Finals Week Three

By STEVE MASCORD

MOST football teams in most big games have a rallying cry. Some of them are positive – doing it for such-and-such – and some are negative – proving the &*$%’s wrong.

Often, we don’t know about these calls to arms until years later, when players publish biographies. Sometimes – as in the case of a certain fabled doctored tip sheet – the players let it slip in the emotion of victory.

In many cases the credos are unimaginative and hackneyed. But just the collective will to believe the unbelievable also summons the required unity to win the biggest game of the year.

So what are the rallying cries of Sydney Roosters and Manly in this Sunday’s NRL grand final at ANZ Stadium?

As has been their way all year, the Roosters were straight up about how they were going to play it.

“The focus now is the grand final – not just playing in one,” said back rower Aiden Guerra as he left Allianz Stadiumon Saturday night.

“We don’t want to be known as just playing in the 2013 grand final.”

They were clearly coach’s words, still ringing in Guerra’s ears from less than half an hour before. “After 2010, we realised it’s not about being in one, it’s about winning one,” Robinson said in an interview the next day.

“And we were really clear about that last night.”

But what of Manly? Sure, coach Geoff Toovey likes a tantrum. But many of the old controversies and ill-feeling between the Sea Eagles and the outside world appear to have faded with time.

David Gallop, whose enmity with Brett and Glenn Stewart was well known, is long-gone.

What motivates a team that is 14-0 down in a preliminary final and has just played two of the most brutal games of the year over the course of the previous fortnight?

A recurring theme in the Sea Eagles’ sheds on Friday night was, indeed, proving people wrong – those who say the Eagles are too old or their pack is too small.

“We’ve got a lot of belief in ourselves in this club, no matter what situation we’re put in,” said interchange forward Jamie Buhrer, who “felt a crack” in his knee later in the game.

Departing Brent Kite even said in the Herald the other day the club believes the grand final it lost to a cheating Melbourne Storm was a premiership victory.

“I was part of that starting side that got rolled over a bit (on Friday) so I’m proud of the boys who came on,” he told me.

“There’s a long history here of playing for each other and sticking together and just wanting to play footy for the team. We’ve sort of done well in the last few years to keep that going.”

The Sea Eagles, it seems, play to prove people wrong. Please don’t tell them it’s an objective they have already achieved many times over….

BEST OF FINALS WEEK THREE: Manly surging back from 14-0 down to pulverise South Sydney. A thing of wonder.

WORST OF FINALS WEEK THREE: A dead heat between Richie Fa’aoso breaking his neck and Danny Buderus’ career ending prematurely with a head knock. Get well soon boys.

WEIRDEST OF FINALS WEEK THREE: Steve Matai rushing straight up the tunnel at fulltime on Friday with no time to celebrate

WHAT I SAW: The first week of the finals, dressingroom access for the media was absolute. Since then, it’s got worse.

QUOTE OF FINALS WEEK THREE: “I was actually sitting there with Jamie Buhrer talking about what sort of drinks we were going to mix up and enjoy tonight” – George Rose on Many trailing South Sydney 14-0.