NRL 2020: Storm vs Panthers grand final, Cameron Smith retirement, Nathan Brown Warriors


Incoming Warriors coach Nathan Brown believes Storm skipper Cameron Smith shouldn’t be crowned the greatest player of all time.

Smith has been the hottest topic in rugby league news for the last couple of months due to the uncertainty surrounding his future and it’s reignited the debate of whether the 37-year-old is the greatest rugby league player of all time.

As a two-time premiership-winning captain, nine-time Dally M Hooker of the Year, two-time Golden Boot winner and the first player to reach the 400-game milestone, Smith makes a very strong case.

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However Brown believes it would be inaccurate to crown any one player with the honour. He does think Smith deserves a slightly different one though.



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NRL Grand Final 2020: Josh Mansour Gus Gould


Gould tried to break the news to Mansour, even telling him he had to accept the offer, that it was too good to pass up. But the bearded winger was having none of it.

Mansour wanted to stay.

He told Gould he would settle for less to stay and to make him an offer. Gould said the Panthers simply couldn’t find that sort of money.

Mansour begged him to stay and Gould found some money.

In the end, Mansour settled for barely half the amount he could have earned in Canberra.

But he was happy. He was home.

Josh Mansour knocked back a huge offer to stay with the Panthers and that loyalty will be rewarded when he plays in his first grand final tonight.Credit:Janie Barrett

“Do I remember that conversation with Gus? I’ll never forget it,” Mansour tells The Sun-Herald. “We were sitting in the player dugout at the stadium. It was just me and him. The negotiations had kept going back and forth with the club and Gus said to me, ‘You should take this Canberra deal, it’s a great deal’.

“But I kept telling him, ‘I don’t want to leave’ and ‘Do what you can, I love this club too much’.

“Penrith had handed me my dream to play in the NRL. I wanted to repay the club for giving me that.

“I got emotional. So did Gus. There were tears in the eyes. Everyone was telling me to go to Canberra. Gus did. So did my manager. Everyone except me.”

Mansour and James Tedesco were photographed hopping off a plane from Canberra where they had just been given the Raiders’ grand tour by coach Ricky Stuart. The pair looked sheepish as they made their way out of one of the domestic terminals at Sydney Airport.

Scoring a try for the Kangaroos at the end of 2014, the same year he ignored a huge deal with Canberra.

Scoring a try for the Kangaroos at the end of 2014, the same year he ignored a huge deal with Canberra.Credit:Christopher Chan

Tedesco ended up signing a $1.8 million deal with Canberra before backflipping to remain with Wests Tigers. The deal lasted three days.

Mansour never agreed to anything but, like Tedesco, told Canberra he would remain in Sydney.

He still remembers sitting next to Tedesco on the flight home when they asked each other what they were thinking.

“Teddy was asking me if I was going to sign,” Mansour says. “I had a feeling he would have gone there had I gone there. I never asked him. That’s just a gut feel.

Panthers player Josh Mansour, wife Daniella and children Dre, left, and Siana.

Panthers player Josh Mansour, wife Daniella and children Dre, left, and Siana. Credit: Nick Moir

Tedesco was reminded of the pair’s trip together this week, and clearly would have enjoyed playing alongside the winger, saying: “He is a nice bloke, a funny bloke, and every time you get around him he makes you smile.”

For Mansour though, there was always something holding him back from moving to Canberra.

“I had a phone call with ‘Sticky’ [Stuart]. I told him I had all my family here and how it was holding me back,” Mansour says.

“I respected Sticky as a bloke and as a coach. We got along really well. I later called him, I said, ‘Mate, I don’t want to beat around the bush, I’m staying at Penrith. Thanks for your interest’.”

Mansour is mobbed by teammates after a try against the Wests Tigers this year.

Mansour is mobbed by teammates after a try against the Wests Tigers this year.Credit: Getty

Mansour gave up more than $500,000 over the three years of the deal to stay.

Raiders boss Don Furner remembers it well too. It was a tough period for the Raiders. But he appreciated Mansour going to the effort of contacting him personally. Furner says he can count on the one hand the number of players who have actually bothered to break the bad news themselves.

It says a lot about Mansour’s upbringing – and it says a lot about his loyalty.

“It was tough call because I knew how much I was giving up,” Mansour says. “I’ve always been loyal. I’ll do anything for my mates and teammates. If someone does right by me, I want to repay them tenfold.

“As soon as I laced up my boots for the first time as a kid, all I wanted to do was play in the NRL.

“I thought that dream was going to be with Souths. I wanted nothing more than to play for South Sydney. I came through their juniors, had a lot of mates there. We had a lot of success in the under-20s.

“Then Penrith gave me my dream. This is home.”

Born to a Lebanese father and Portuguese mother whose hearts were crushed when their son chose rugby league over football – Mansour was a talented striker who started out at Lakemba Sports, the one-time home of Tim Cahill – the 30-year-old is the longest-serving Panther involved in Sunday’s grand final.

Mansour is off contract at the end of next season and knows the club will need to weigh up experience versus youth.

Charlie Staines has a huge future and already knocked back Canterbury to recommit to the Panthers. He’s known as the “Ferrari” because of his blistering speed. If Staines is the flashy Italian sports car, Mansour is the trusty Holden that shows no signs of burning out.

Fan favourite: Josh Mansour meets supporters in Bathurst last season.

Fan favourite: Josh Mansour meets supporters in Bathurst last season.

Staines won’t find it easy to unseat the veteran. Mansour has bounced back into form this year along with fellow winger Brian To’o. The Penrith wide men are not the biggest, but have huge engines and have been key in getting the Panthers on the front foot in the club’s 17-game win streak by taking the first and second hit-ups in the tackle count. They were awesome last Saturday against Souths.

Playing outside rookie centre Stephen Crichton has also given Mansour a new lease of life.

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“I’ll keep playing as long as my body allows me to play,” says Mansour, who has overcome some shocking injuries in recent years, including an ACL he ruptured while on a Kangaroos tour and multiple facial fractures suffered in a collision in 2018.

He might be the Panthers’ longest-serving player but sadly Mansour remains a shocking singer and the only Penrith player to botch the words to the team song – despite the team singing it 17 straight games in a row this season.

“It was my 150th, I had to lead the team song, but I crumbled under the pressure,” he says. “The boys were squirting water in my face and I ended up going too fast. I stuffed it up.”

A small stuff up in the scheme of things, and one easily forgotten if he gets to sing the song alonside the the Provan-Summons Trophy on Sunday night.

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NRL 2020: Peter V’landys ARLC chair, code war, AFL, Tony Cochrane


ARLC Chair Peter V’landys has been labelled a “loud mouth” by Gold Coast Suns chair Tony Cochrane after he took a swipe at “AFL types” earlier this week.

V’landys reignited the code war when he hit out at “AFL types” whom he said were the NRL’s “greatest critics” when the governing body got the game back up and running in May.

The NRL was the first sporting code to resume after COVID-19 forced the world into lockdown and the AFL followed two weeks later.

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V’landys has taken great pride in that.



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NRL Grand Final 2020 weather forecast: Sydney weather, rain, storms, chance of delay to Grand Final, ANZ Stadium, conditions


The Melbourne Storm will have a slice of their home city with them when they take on the Panthers in Sunday’s grand final with ANZ Stadium expected to be absolutely drenched.

The Bureau of Meteorology has given a 90% chance of rain with a fall or 10 to 25mm in Homebush, which will undoubtedly have an impact on the stadiums surface which is known to get quite dewy at night.

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By kick-off at 7:30pm there’s still a 50% chance of rainfall and it will be a chilly 15 degrees — although it will fee like 11 degrees.

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GF ULTIMATE GUIDE: Everything you need to know about Panthers’ clash with Storm



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When and where is the NRL grand final, and how can I watch it?


After a unique season, it’s just about time for the 2020 NRL grand final between the Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm.

If you’re wondering how to watch it on TV, when to tune in or even how to get some last-minute tickets, we’ve got you covered.

When is the NRL grand final?

The men’s game starts on Sunday night at 7:30pm AEDT at Sydney’s Olympic stadium.

For those of you looking to tune in around the country, that’s:

  • 6:30pm AEST for Queensland
  • 7:00pm ACDT for South Australia
  • 4:30pm AWST for Western Australia
  • 6:00pm ACST for the Northern Territory

The NRLW grand final kicks off at 4:05pm AEDT.

Bear in mind that scheduled kick-off times in the NRL are almost always wrong, especially for big events. Expect boot-to-ball anywhere from five to 15 minutes late.

Who is playing in the NRL grand final?

Penrith won the only game between these teams this year 21-14 in round six.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Penrith and Melbourne.

They finished the season first and second respectively, won in the first week of the finals, got the week off and the Storm thumped the Canberra Raiders before the Panthers took down the South Sydney Rabbitohs in their grand final qualifiers.

It’s the eighth time since 2000 that teams one and two will meet in the grand final, but only the second time in the past eight years.

The third NRLW grand final is also a 1 vs 2 match-up, with two-time defending champion Brisbane up against the Roosters in a rematch of the 2018 grand final.

Ali Brigginshaw evades a tackle
The Roosters and Broncos also faced off just last week, with the Broncos winning 24-16.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

Is the NRL grand final on Foxtel or Kayo?

No, not the men’s game at least.

The men’s decider is exclusive to free-to-air broadcaster Channel Nine in Australia, but Fox will carry the women’s final in the afternoon.

An NRL women's team gather in celebration, with the trophy in front of them, after grand final win.
The Broncos are aiming for three straight NRLW premierships.(Supplied: NRL)

There are also a number of international TV broadcasters, so check your local guides if you are out of the country.

Another great way for expats to follow the game is with our live blog, which starts at 3:00pm AEDT on Sunday.

The ABC will also have live radio coverage of both games.

Can I get tickets?

No.

The NRL announced the game was official sold out on grand final eve.

The New South Wales Government is allowing 40,000 fans (about half the stadium’s usual capacity), which would be the biggest crowd for an NRL game this year.

Who is favourite for the Clive Churchill Medal?

Nathan Cleary tries to get past the Melbourne Storm defence
Cameron Smith (left) and Nathan Cleary (centre) are the favourites.(AAP: Julian Smith)

In possibly his last game, Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith is one of the favourites to be named the best on ground in the NRL grand final.

Despite playing in seven grand finals and winning four of them, Smith has never won the Clive.

The other favourite is Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary, who was also tipped to win the Dally M Medal but missed out.

Has coronavirus changed anything for the NRL grand final?

It certainly has.

The Storm have been based on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast for most of the season because of Victoria’s second wave, while the Panthers, obviously, have been based in Penrith, just a short drive from Homebush.

Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy and captain Cameron Smith, wearing thongs, at a press conference before the NRL grand final.
Melbourne’s pre-match media on the Sunshine Coast was a bit more casual than usual.(AAP: Darren England)

Usually in grand final week, both teams spend days in Sydney leading up to the game, completing media and photo opportunities, including things like a grand final breakfast.

That’s not the case this year, with the Storm flying down to Sydney on Saturday afternoon and reportedly only allowed out of their hotel for a final training run on the eve of the match and then the game itself.

Win or lose, the Storm also won’t be hanging around for celebratory drinks/drowning of sorrows for long, with a flight out of Sydney booked for Sunday night.

What is the NRL grand final entertainment?

Amy Shark, whose song C’mon (featuring Travis Barker) was released on Friday.

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She’ll be on stage half an hour before the men’s grand final kicks off.

If you’re thinking ‘Hasn’t she already done that?’, no, but she did perform at State of Origin III in 2018 and headlined the NRL’s Festival of Footy at Bega in February.



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NRL Grand Final 2020: Tino Faasuamaleaui


“He certainly played his role in persuading David to join him at the Titans,” Watt said. “He was relentless in ensuring his close friend was going to join him to help turn the club around.

“They both indicated they wanted to take on the challenge of lifting the Titans up the ladder, and they’re looking forward to playing together.”

Tino Faasuamaleaui.Credit:Getty

Watt said if Faasuamaleaui could win the title, it would further prove his ability to handle the pressure in the big games. The chance to welcome a premiership winner at just 20 years of age only further vindicates the Titans’ early pursuit of the Samoan international.

Faasuamaleaui, Fifita and Payne Haas were inseparable when they toured Fiji with the Prime Minister’s XIII team last year, and Haas told The Sun-Herald he could not be more excited for his friend to have a chance to win a title at such a young age.

“I’m pretty proud he’s got this far and it would be special for him and his family as well,” Haas said.

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“He played Prime Minister’s with me last year and I know how good he can be. You could see then what potential he had.

“He’s got a great running game and can defend well – he’s hard to get past and he’s hard to tackle – so he’s the complete player.”

Haas joked there was no way of joining his mates at the Titans, “especially now David has taken all the money”, but added another Haas, Payne’s younger brother Klese, would join them in the pre-season.

Faasuamaleaui played just the five games last year but run around every week this year for the Storm except for the final-round defeat against St George Illawarra when Craig Bellamy rested a heap of regulars.

The Samoan flavour will be strong with Faasuamaleaui to lock horns with Penrith trio Moses Leota, Brian To’o and Jarome Luai whom he all played alongside this time last year in a Test against Fiji.

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NRL 2020: Storm vs Panthers grand final, Greg Alexander, 1991 Winfield Cup, 2003 grand final


If you believe in fate, the Panthers will lift the Provan-Summons trophy on Sunday.

They won the minor premiership and grand final in 1991 and both again in 2003. This year’s perky Penrith side have already secured the J.J Giltinan Shield, they just have one more thing to tick off the list — the premiership.

But first they need to outsmart and outshine the benchmark club of the last five decade.

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Panthers deputy chair, maiden premiership-winning captain and all-round club legend Greg Alexander has given the simple advice: “make it count” as the club prepares for its first grand final since 2003.



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NRL Grand Final 2020 Melbourne Storm vs Penrith Panthers, live updates, score, start time, video, blog


From 16 hopefuls in March to just two possibles in October the race to the 2020 Telstra Premiership trophy is down to the Panthers and Storm.

In a remarkable season that was shut down due to a worldwide pandemic, the champion to one of the toughest NRL titles ever will be crowned on October 25.

Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s NRL decider.

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NRL 2020: Melbourne Storm v Penrith Panthers, Jahrome Hughes, Andrew Johns, contract, salary


Andrew Johns has hit out at the actions of Jahrome Hughes’ agent after revealing that he was attracting significant interest from rival clubs in the biggest week of his career.

The Storm halfback comes off contract on November 1, but first he has to tackle the Penrith Panthers in Sunday’s grand final.

Earlier this week the player’s manager, Chris Orr, spoke to WWOS and said how Hughes was facing a mountain of interest after a strong showing for the Storm in 2020.

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NRL grand final 2020: Melbourne Storm v Penrith Panthers, Peter V’landys takes dig at AFL, Victoria


They told him it would never happen. They said it was impossible.

But Australian Rugby League commission chair Peter V’landys has laughed back at the critics who said the NRL couldn’t relaunch on May 28 ahead of this weekend’s grand final.

After the COVID-19 pandemic brought Australia’s sporting codes to a halt in March, there seemed to be no clear plan on what to do.

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V’landys, who had experienced the equine flu during his time in charge of NSW Racing, had a plan of attack.



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