The Last Glance: 8 players to keep an eye on in 4 quarters and 2 halves

Updated: Oct 24, 2020

The pinnacle, the Everest, the holy grail.

Ah it’s that time of year again. The AFL and NRL will crown its 2020 champions. While a little later in the year than usual, its grand final time, nonetheless.

The Gabba will host Richmond versus Geelong in the AFL decider, with the Tigers looking to win the flag for the third time in four years.

In the NRL, Penrith will make their way down from the foot of the mountains as a Storm rolls into ANZ Stadium on Sunday evening.

The Panthers and Cats have been tipped by many experts to finish the season as winners but Melbourne and Richmond, who have plenty of finals experience in recent times, will set up two fantastic contests.

There are eight players that I’ll be keeping my eye on this weekend, two coming from each club and for a variety of reasons.

There are the obvious choices. There are a couple of GOAT’s playing their final game (potentially) and big-name stars who will attract all the attention.

Then there are the hidden gems. The players who may not receive much of the media coverage but could very well make a huge difference in the end result.

There are plenty of options and players to choose from, but here are the eight I will be keeping my eye on this grand final weekend.

Richmond Tigers:

Dustin Martin (#4)

I have never been more excited to listen to BT and Bruce sing the great man’s praises, but on grand final day, they have every reason to.

The man they call Dusty almost always rises to the occasion when the big moments present themselves and will be expected to set the Gabba alight again on Saturday night.

Marlin Pickett (#50)

This grand final day will look a little different for Marlin Pickett. On this day last year, he was gearing up for his first ever AFL game and generated plenty of hype.

Pickett was the was the first player to debut in a VFL/AFL grand final since 1952 and the first to win a premiership in his debut game since 1926.

After now playing 19 games, this year he will blend in with a Tigers team jam-packed with superstars. I am looking forward to just watching him play his role without as much fanfare the other superstars will receive.

Geelong Cats:

Gary Ablett (#4)

Everyone both at the ground and watching on TV will be keeping a close eye on the little master. Gaz is playing his 357th and final game on Saturday night, a fitting farewell to one of the modern-day greats.

Win or lose, the stage is the set for a man who deserves to go out in the biggest match of the year after all the work he has done and highlights he has created.

Patrick Dangerfield (#35)

Beware, Danger ahead. With Gaz vying for his third premiership, the All-Australian captain will be playing in the first decider of his career.

One of the premier players in the competition, eyeballs will be split between Danger, Ablett, and the rest of the star-studded Cats line-up on Saturday evening.

Penrith Panthers:

Nathan Cleary (#7)

The best player in the NRL this season (besides Dally M winner Jack Wighton), was favourite to win the award but fell 2 points short in the final round of voting.

Cleary will be the main man for Penrith come Sunday and will play a crucial role steering the ship in his 100th first grade match.

His kicking game and experience will prove vital if they are locked in an arm wrestle with Melbourne, and his composure can help settle the nerves for the young Panthers side.

Brent Naden (#3) / Tyrone May (#14)

Keep an eye out for the final team list on Sunday afternoon to see who coach Ivan Cleary opts for in the centres, Naden or May.

May, who started at centre in their prelim wearing number 14, is a lot stronger defensively then Naden, who received no minutes last week against the Rabbits.

After starting all of his 17 games this season, Naden has again been named in the centres for the decider. An attacking danger, it will be interesting to see whether he of May gets the nod to run out.

Melbourne Storm:

Cameron Smith (#9)

All eyes will be on Smith in what could be his last game of rugby league. He will do what he does best, control the game as only he can do.

No need for any more explanation, there has already been enough said about the GOAT.

Nicho Hynes (#17)

Only played 5 minutes against the Raiders in last weeks preliminary final. Another fullback off the Storm’s production line, he will provide back up for the outside backs and most likely play a bench impact role if required.

If the Storm are in control the entire game, he won’t get much time on the field at all. However, if there are injuries or the Storm needs some lightning, Hynes may play a bigger role and prove the difference.

As for my tip this weekend, I am going to sit on the fence in both deciders. I am just looking forward to watching these eight players grace the field, as well as the many other storylines prevalent across all four teams.

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