COVID delay works out nicely for Finucane

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.

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The veteran Hawk who would suit Carlton’s side “really nicely”

Carlton is searching for answers after giving up the first five goals of the game against Adelaide on Sunday before eventually going down by 16 points at Metricon Stadium.

It was the 17th game in coach David Teague’s 27 matches that his side has given up a 30-point unanswered deficit, with their uncanny ability to concede blocks of goals cruelling them throughout the current season.

As the Blues search for answers ahead of 2021, Jordan Lewis says Hawthorn free agent Isaac Smith would suit a side like Carlton “really nicely”, saying recruiting a player of his calibre would allow them to continue their incremental improvement.

“They’ve got talent and they just need to show improvement,” he said on SEN Breakfast.

“They need to add maybe a few players to their list, you think of someone like (Hawthorn’s) Isaac Smith who has that outside run would suit them really nicely.

“But I do think there’s been improvement (this year at Carlton).

Lewis broke down where the Blues are currently going wrong and wondered whether COVID-related training restrictions were hurting the side.

“Where they fall away (in games) is situation stuff,” he said.

“Good sides, and when you have the ability to train during the year, can train situations that may pop up in the game. They haven’t had time to do that (because of COVID training restrictions), they have a young list and a new coach who would want to put his players in positions that they might find themselves in games.

“It’s hard and been a very difficult year to practise that but you rely on your leaders (like) Patrick Cripps to will you side over the line but when you give up a lead like they did against Adelaide , it’s just too much to pull back in a shortened game.”

The Blues currently sit in 12th spot on the ladder, having won seven games from 16 matches in 2020.

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