Bellamy, Flanagan begin NRL GF mind games

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Bellamy, Flanagan begin NRL GF mind games

Melbourne made Cronulla wait on Thursday, so the Sharks are going to return the favour.

Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan revealed he has finalised his line-up for their highly-anticipated decider, but opted not to let the opposition know after the Sharks were left twiddling their thumbs at the NRL’s traditional pre-grand final press conference at Sydney’s Opera House.

The Storm eventually arrived 15 minutes late, but will now have to wait until an hour before kickoff on Sunday to know the make-up of the Sharks team.

“In my mind, I have (decided). We’ve got another training run on Saturday. But Joseph Paulo definitely won’t play. I’ll make my mind up on the other two later, as the week goes on,” Flanagan said.

“(Sam) trained well today. He’s ready to go if I need him.”

Sharks skipper Paul Gallen also confirmed he had come through unscathed from a field session earlier on Thursday after missing Wednesday night’s Dally M awards.

He was seen stretching his back as the Sharks waited for the Storm to arrive.

“I’m okay. I trained today, got through the session okay. Just sitting down for long periods of time isn’t ideal. But there won’t be any issue for Sunday,” he said.

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy also chose to buy into the mind games, refusing to guarantee utility Ben Hampton would be on his bench at ANZ Stadium.

Hampton failed to get on the park in their preliminary final win over Canberra last week., while Bellamy named a nine-man bench on Tuesday.

“He might, but he might not too,” Bellamy said of Hampton.

“I don’t like leaving a guy on the bench the whole game in any game, especially a preli. Just the way the game went, I thought we were better off with the other players.

“Benny understood that. He’s been training really hard. As Flanno said, he’s ready to go if we need him.”

The Sharks will start as slight underdogs as they attempt to claim a maiden premiership, a tag Flanagan embraced as he sat next to Bellamy in the bowels of the Opera House.

He said the Storm, who are preparing for their sixth grand final in 11 years, were the club they chose to emulate two years ago.

“Ever since Cooper (Cronk), Cameron (Smith) and Billy (Slater) started their career down there, for me they’ve been the most consistent team year after year,” he said.

“I know they had some competitions taken off them, but we all know that doesn’t take away from the football they’ve put out on the park.

“They had been the most consistent team for ten years for me.

“We do admire them as a club and look at them as the benchmark club. But come Sunday, we’ll be taking the gloves off, that’s for sure.”

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