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Storm wary of Hasler factor

Date
Illustration: Michael Mucci.

Illustration: Michael Mucci.

MELBOURNE Storm coach Craig Bellamy has said that he does not know, or had not really thought about, what sorts of tricks Canterbury counterpart Des Hasler could pull in Sunday's grand final. But Bellamy has no doubt of the capabilities of the Bulldogs mentor.

The pair have shared an intense rivalry, splitting grand final wins in 2007 and 2008 when Hasler was the coach of Manly, although the Storm's premiership was later stripped because of salary cap rorting.

Bellamy said he admired the transformation that Hasler had made to the Bulldogs, which he took to the minor premiership in his first season at the club. In that time, he has, similar to Bellamy, changed journeymen and fringe players into quality first graders.

''I don't know what to expect from Des on Sunday, but the thing you know is he's done a wonderful thing with them this year,'' Bellamy said. ''He's obviously changed their game style without a doubt and I'd imagine they'll stick pretty much with what they've been doing [all season]. It's been very successful, they've been the best and most successful team throughout the competition this year, so he's done a wonderful job there in getting all those guys on board and believing in what he wanted to do.

''Those players have turned themselves into NRL players. Des has obviously shown them what they have to do and how they do it and they've taken the bull by the horns and done it.

''We're talking about Josh Reynolds being the Blues' five-eighth next year and I don't think he's going to be too far away from it either, and Kris Keating, he's been in it a little while but he's obviously playing the best footy he's ever played.''

But there were no surprises from either coach when naming their teams for Sunday's clash.

As expected Bellamy recalled winger Sisa Waqa, who jarred a knee during a training session last Thursday and withdrew from the team after the pre-game warm-up to the preliminary final against Manly.

Waqa trained on Tuesday and will need to complete tomorrow's session to be declared fit, with young Victorian Mahe Fonua named on an extended bench as standby.

Hasler named the same 18-man squad he has used throughout the finals series, which includes former Wests Tigers grand final winner Dene Halatau as 18th man.

Two-time Dally M medal winner Johnathan Thurston and Clive Churchill medallist Scott Prince believe the composure and experience of Melbourne's halves will get them across the line.

The Storm's dominance in that area is backed by statistics that reveal the Bulldogs' pairing of Keating and Reynolds will have to overcome 35 years of history if they are to help the Bulldogs prevail on Sunday.

Since Rod McGregor and John Bailey piloted St George past Parramatta in 1977, no halves pairing has tasted grand final success without boasting at least one international.

It puts Hasler's men at a significant disadvantage when compared to the polished duo of Cooper Cronk (14 Tests for Australia) and Gareth Widdop (eight Tests for England).

''No doubt that experience will play a part,'' Thurston said. ''Have a look at the Melbourne side and it's full of composure and experience.

''They've had players there that have played in the big games and know exactly what it takes to win big games. Certainly that's why I'm tipping them.

''It's contrasting styles though isn't it? Composed and structured from Melbourne. The other side is a more 'play what's in front of you' ad-lib style from two guys who are only rookies in their positions but have done a wonderful job.''

Prince, who won the Clive Churchill medal as a 25-year-old when he won the 2005 premiership with the Wests Tigers, said there could be advantages for young partnerships, but he backed Melbourne.

''[The Bulldogs are] just going to play what they see and enjoy the moment for what it is,'' Prince said.

''They'll go out there and hold nothing back. But it's hard to look past Melbourne.

''They've got too much big game experience, they just seem to get it done every time.''

Adding to the distractions of the week, the partners of Todd Lowrie and Widdop are each expecting to give birth to their second child within the next week, but there is no suggestion that the players will pull out of the game.

''There wasn't a great deal of belief obviously earlier this year about us making the grand final,'' joked Bellamy about the expected timing of the births.

With AAP

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Thu, 05 MarTimes shown AEDT
BRI 6vs SOU 36 Report Stats
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PAR 42vs MAN 12 Report Report Stats
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NEW 24vs NZW 14 Report Stats
GCT 18vs WST 19 Report Stats
NQL 4vs SYD 28 Report Stats
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PEN 24vs CBY 18 Report Stats
CRO 20vs CBR 24 Report Stats
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STG 4vs MEL 12 Report Stats
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Round 2
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
CBY 32vs PAR 12 Report Stats
CRO 2vs BRI 10 Report Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
PEN 40vs GCT 0 Report Stats
MAN 24vs MEL 22 Stats
NQL 14vs NEW 16 Report Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
SOU 34vs SYD 26 Stats
CBR 6vs NZW 18 Report Stats
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WST 22vs STG 4 Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
MAN 12vs CBY 16 Report Stats
BRI 44vs NQL 22 Report Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
NZW 29vs PAR 16 Report Stats
CBR 20vs STG 22 Report Stats
MEL 36vs CRO 18 Report Stats
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SOU 20vs WST 6 Report Stats
GCT 18vs NEW 20 Report Stats
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SYD 20vs PEN 12 Report Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
PAR 29vs SOU 16 Report Stats
WST 24vs CBY 25 Report Stats
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NEW 26vs PEN 14 Report Stats
CRO 22vs GCT 24 Report Stats
STG 12vs MAN 4 Report Stats
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
NZW 16vs BRI 24 Report Stats
SYD 34vs CBR 6 Report Stats
Mon, 30 MarTimes shown AEDT
NQL 18vs MEL 17 Stats
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Round 5
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
CBY 17vs SOU 18 Report Stats
GCT 16vs BRI 26 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MAN 16vs CBR 29 Report Stats
NEW 0vs STG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD 12vs CRO 20 Report Stats
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PAR 6vs WST 22 Report Stats
MEL 30vs NZW 14 Report Stats
PEN 10vs NQL 30 Report Stats
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Round 6
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
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CRO 22vs NEW 6 Report Stats
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PEN 22vs MAN 12 Report Stats
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STG 31vs CBY 6 Report Stats
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SOU 12vs NQL 30 Report Stats
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Round 7
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CBY 28vs MAN 16 Report Stats
STG 12vs BRI 10 Report Stats
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GCT 32vs PEN 6 Report Stats
NQL 28vs NZW 24 Report Stats
MEL 17vs SYD 16 Report Stats
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WST 22vs CBR 30 Report Stats
NEW 22vs PAR 28 Report Stats
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CRO 18vs SOU 10 Stats
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NEW 24vs NQL 26 Report Stats
SYD 12vs STG 14 Report Stats
MEL 10vs MAN 12 Stats
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SYD 36vs WST 4 Stats
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CBR 56vs GCT 16 Stats
CRO 16vs NZW 20 Stats
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GCT 22vs CRO 23 Report Stats
MEL 16vs SOU 12 Stats
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STG 32vs CBR 18 Report Stats
NEW 22vs WST 12 Stats
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SOU 14vs PAR 12 Report Stats
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Round 12
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NEW 22vs CBR 44 Stats
SOU 36vs NZW 4 Stats
PEN 0vs MEL 20 Report Stats
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MEL 12vs BRI 14 Report Stats
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Round 16
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BRI 44vs NEW 22 Stats
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NQL 18vs CRO 24 Report Stats
PAR 16vs STG 12 Report Stats
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Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN 20vs SOU 6 Report Stats
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STG 12vs NQL 18 Report Stats
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MAN 28vs CRO 16 Report Stats
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WST 16vs PAR 28 Stats
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Round 18
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
CBR 36vs NEW 22 Stats
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN 4vs SYD 24 Stats
CBY 8vs BRI 16 Stats
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CRO 28vs STG 8 Report Stats
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GCT 6vs MAN 38 Stats
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PAR 4vs CBY 28 Report Stats
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NEW 30vs GCT 2 Report Stats
STG 8vs SOU 24 Report Stats
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BRI 42vs WST 16 Stats
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Round 20
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WST 34vs MEL 16 Report Stats
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NQL 32vs CBR 24 Stats
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Thu, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
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WST vs NEW 15:00CSS
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CBY vs GCT 16:00Central Coast Stadium
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CRO vs MEL 19:00Remondis Stadium
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Round 24
Thu, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
STG vs PEN 19:45WIN
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
SOU vs CBY 19:45ANZ
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CRO vs WST 15:00Remondis Stadium
NZW vs NQL 17:30MSS
SYD vs BRI 19:30AS
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GCT vs CBR 14:00Cbus Super Stadium
MAN vs PAR 16:00BO
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MEL vs NEW 19:00AAMI
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Round 25
Thu, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
SOU vs BRI 19:45AS
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
MAN vs SYD 19:45BO
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
PAR vs CRO 15:00Pirtek Stadium
NEW vs CBY 17:30HS
MEL vs NQL 19:30AAMI
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WST vs NZW 14:00CSS
GCT vs STG 16:00Cbus Super Stadium
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CBR vs PEN 19:30GIO Stadium
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Round 26
Thu, 03 SepTimes shown AEST
BRI vs MEL 19:45SUN
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SYD vs SOU 19:45AS
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