Bellamy and Flanagan to settle on line-ups after training run
NRL: Melbourne utility Ben Hampton and Cronulla hit man Sam Tagataese will find out tomorrow if they will be part of Sunday's sold-out NRL grand final at ANZ Stadium.
Rival coaches Craig Bellamy and Shane Flanagan were keeping their final line-ups close to their chests as the clock ticked down to a clash that is proving difficult to predict.
Both sides will have a final training run or captain's run tomorrow before the two settle on their final 17 men to go into battle.
Hampton was part of the 17 when Melbourne squeezed past Canberra 14-12 to advance to the grand final but he didn't see a minute of action and Bellamy has to decide if he needs to make a change.
While Flanagan has ruled Joseph Paulo (knee) out, he is still to decide on his 17th player, possibly Tagataese.
The big-hitting and hard-running Tagataese hasn't played since suffering a fractured scapula in round 22, almost eight weeks ago, but has managed to get through all of this week's training sessions and is a good chance of denying Kurt Capewell a spot.
"In my mind I have (finalised the squad). We've got another training run today but it'll be out of (Capewell and Tagataese),” Flanagan said.
"He (Tagataese) trained well today and is ready to go if I need him.”
Former Parramatta and Brisbane greats Brett Kenny and Steve Renouf have both tipped Melbourne's big-game experience and the combination of Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk to win the day.
"If both teams go out there and produce the best games you would have to say Melbourne wins,” said Renouf, a four-time premiership winner with the Broncos.
"When you have two players like Smith and Cronk in your team and a coach like Craig Bellamy it's hard to go past them.”
Kenny, the former champion Parramatta five-eighth, said he had no doubt Cronulla would get a bit of help from up above, however, with former Sharks centre and chief executive Steve Rogers looking down.
"I reckon if any of the Sharks backs make a break they will feel Steve pushing them along from behind,” Kenny said.
Cronulla will be massive sentimental favourites, having gone 49 years without a premiership since joining the competition in 1967.