NRL: Storm hold historical halves advantage

Josh Reynolds and Kris Keating will be looking to become the first halves pairing since 1977 to win the grand final without having played an international. Photo / Getty Images
Josh Reynolds and Kris Keating will be looking to become the first halves pairing since 1977 to win the grand final without having played an international. Photo / Getty Images

Two-time Dally M medal winner Johnathan Thurston and Clive Churchill medallist Scott Prince believe the composure and experience of Melbourne's halves will get them across the line in Sunday's NRL grand final with Canterbury.

The Storm's dominance in that area is highlighted by statistics which reveal Kris Keating and Josh Reynolds will be overcoming 35 years of history if they help the Bulldogs prevail on Sunday.

Since Rod McGregor and John Bailey piloted St George past Parramatta in 1977, no halves pairing has tasted grand final success without boasting at least one international.

Five-eighth Reynolds has been touted as a bolter for the Kangaroos Test match against New Zealand in Townsville next month, but like halfback Keating he has yet to debut.

It puts Des Hasler's men at a significant disadvantage when compared to the polished duo of Cooper Cronk (14 Tests for Australia) and Gareth Widdop (eight Tests for England).

"No doubt that experience will play a part," Thurston told AAP.

"Have a look at the Melbourne side and it's full of composure and experience.

"They've had players there that have played in the big games and know exactly what it takes to win big games. Certainly that's why I'm tipping them.

"It's contrasting styles though isn't it? Composed and structured from Melbourne.

"The other side is a more 'play what's in front of you' ad-lib style from two guys who are only rookies in their positions but have done a wonderful job."

Prince, who won the Clive Churchill medal as a 25-year-old when he won the 2005 premiership with the Wests Tigers, said there can be advantages for young partnerships.

His halves partner in their triumph over North Queensland was then 20-year-old Benji Marshall, but Prince says he's still backing the Storm.

"I think (there can be an advantage). It's just about getting out there and not knowing," Prince told AAP.

"Just going out there, having a bit of fun and throwing caution to the wind. But I think that's probably the difference between the two teams - Melbourne know how much it means.

"I'm not saying the Bulldogs don't know how much it means, but they're just going to play what they see and enjoy the moment for what it is.

"They'll go out there and hold nothing back ... But it's hard to look past Melbourne.

"They've got too much big game experience, they just seem to get it done every time."

Bulldogs great Terry Lamb said the confidence of Keating and Reynolds was so high that their inexperience mattered little.

"When the confidence is up anything can happen," he said.

"That's a fair comparison (to say they're outmatched) but you've got to understand it's on the day isn't it?

"If our blokes Krippy (Keating) and Josh play the way they have been the past few weeks it will be a very, very tight game.

"Whatever number you've got on your back doesn't matter who you're playing. You play a team, not a player."

- AAP

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