NRL’s biggest week about handling hype
Just another game. Not just another week. Melbourne know all about NRL grand finals, going into their fifth in the past seven seasons.
As well as 80 minutes of the highest intensity club rugby league possible, the off-field demands are lengthy, and preparation-changing.
For the Storm, it means going to Sydney earlier than normal before a Sunday game – fronting up at Thursday’s grand final breakfast.
But the Melbourne players who’ve been there before say the secret is to embrace the week, handle the hype, prepare as normally as possible and try to treat the game the same as any other.
“Game-wise, it doesn’t change,” skipper Cameron Smith said.
“The biggest difference is the lead-up to the match. The hype around the game, the attention from the public and the media.
“But that can work in your favour if you let it, if you embrace the week and enjoy everything about it.”
Fullback Billy Slater admits the demands are more pressing than normal, but says it’s important to realise others would kill for the opportunity the Storm and Bulldogs have on Sunday at ANZ Stadium.
“It’s a different week, that’s for sure,” Slater said.
“There’s a lot of media commitments, going to the grand final breakfast, going on The Footy Show.
“But we’re playing a game of football this weekend that everyone would love to be playing.
“We’re very fortunate to be in this position, and we’re going to approach the week like that.”
The Storm’s week will be about training with intensity, rather than with a higher workload – confident much of the groundwork has already been laid for Sunday’s performance.
“We’ve done the hard work. The week leading into the game is about enjoying it, and fine-tuning the aspects to make you play well on Sunday night,” halfback Cooper Cronk said.
“It comes down to how you play the game on Sunday.
“Both teams have played exceptional this year.
“It’s who comes out and handles the week the best and plays the best brand of football Sunday.”© AAP 2013
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