Melbourne lock Dale Finucane is one player who couldn’t be happier COVID-19 pushed back the date of this year’s NRL grand final.
The 29-year-old will line up in his sixth grand final against Penrith on Sunday at ANZ Stadium, having made a successful return from a calf injury to play his first game since August in last Friday’s preliminary final win over Canberra.
That wouldn’t have been the case had this year’s premiership decider been played on October 4, as originally scheduled.
It’s a fact that’s not lost on the NSW State of Origin representative.
“Yeah, the timing’s worked out really well,” Finucane said.
“Initially, I don’t think the calf injury was going to be as long as what it was and best case sort of after I’d reinjured the calf was to come back in the prelim.
“I’m really happy that I got a game under my belt before we’re going to play again in a grand final.”
After suffering two grand final defeats at Canterbury in 2012 and 2014, Finucane missed out on a premiership again with Melbourne in 2016.
He finally tasted premiership success in 2017, his fourth grand final, but was on the losing team again in the 2018 decider.
While he woke up sore after the game against the Raiders, Finucane is adamant he’s 100 per cent ready to go against the Panthers as he chases a second premiership ring.
“In that eight weeks of rehab that I had, I didn’t run a great deal during that period,” he said.
“Leading into that game, obviously, I had to get a little bit of volume in and know that I could get through that work to play.
“So it was a fair increase in volume with that game but because I got through it well, unscathed, uninjured, I’ll be able to play as many minutes as Craig (Bellamy, coach) needs.
Melbourne will remain at their Sunshine Coast base on Friday before the team flies to Sydney on Saturday.
A group of staff and family members will fly down on Sunday to support the players at the grand final before everyone returns to Queensland post-match.