NRL Preview grand final: Brett Kimmorley verdict, TAB odds

Thurston's tribute text to Cronk ahead of grand final                                   
          LEAGUE

Veteran NRL stars Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk both have hard decisions to make after helping Melbourne Storm to Grand Final glory at the expense of North Queensland Cowboys on Sunday. "But this is one hell of a football team to come back from the disappointment of past year and continually do the hard work and continually do the hard things that make you a good footy team". With NRL Grand Final fever causing such a stir, take a few moments to look beyond the on-field highs and lows, to what supports and unites many players in the NRL community.

However, Paul Green's men have been defying logic for weeks now and their spirit and self-belief will stand them in good stead as they bid to pull off one more shock win. Despite the evidence being clearly in the Storm's favour, you can expect a flurry of bets going on the Cowboys because everybody loves a fairy-tale.

Meanwhile, star half back Cooper Cronk, who is leaving the Storm after this year and who may never play again, said he didn't know where he'd be if it wasn't for Melbourne Storm.

With a second Clive Churchill medal around his neck, Billy Slater (right) celebrates Storm's win.

ANALYST: Ipswich Jets co-coach Shane Walker has given the QT the good oil on strategies he says can work for both teams in the NRL grand final.

The Storm have recovered from that disappointment in style and are a much stronger team than 12 months ago.

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"But Taumalolo with his big charges and his footwork is devastating and Morgan has been the best player in the play-offs so far".

The contest was only four minutes old when the Cowboys copped their first major blow of the night courtesy of some friendly fire.

Kaufusi was the next to cross, after Billy Slater set him up off a set play. Considering they lost 26-8 the last time these sides met suggests that everything will need to go right if the Cowboys are to pull off the upset. The Storm are favourites heading into the game, with their NRL Grand Final odds being priced at $1.30.

Cowboys five-eighth Te Maire Martin was chasing the Storm flyer from the outside but collided with the whistle-blower and went to ground, leaving Addo-Carr in open space.

The Cowboys, at the end of an injury-hit season that included losing captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott, suffered another blow in the final, losing prop Shaun Fensom to a broken leg in the third minute.

"I didn't really know [whether I'd be back here]", Slater said after the win, breaking into tears. It is the stuff of dreams for Cowboys fans, even more so when you remember that they would not even be here had the Dragons held on against the Bulldogs in round 26.

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