The match-ups to decide the NRL decider
MATCH UPS TO DECIDE THE NRL GRAND FINAL
Fullback - James Tedesco (Roosters) v Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (Raiders)
The reigning Dally M (NRL), Wally Lewis (State of Origin), Brad Fittler (NSW State of Origin) and Jack Gibson (Sydney Roosters) medallist against a player who hadn't even signed with his club until February. But while it may be a walkover to Tedesco on paper, Nicoll-Klokstad does top his esteemed counterpart in runs and kick-return metres in his breakout season.
Centre - Latrell Mitchell (Roosters) v Joseph Leilua (Raiders)
Both have overcome adversity this year, Mitchell with his State of Origin axing, and Leilua a neck injury scare. But both arrive as arguably the game-breakers out of their respective backlines. As the league's leading points-scorer and second-highest try-scorer, Mitchell's record speaks for itself. Leilua will rely on trademark unpredictability for impact.
Hooker - Sam Verrills/Jake Friend (Roosters) v Josh Hodgson (Raiders)
How Roosters coach Trent Robinson manages the likely time share between impressive rookie Verrills and co-captain Friend, playing in just his sixth match of the year, will be key. They come up against the form hooker in Hodgson, who leads the league in one-on-one steals, and is often the crux of the Raiders' attack.
Prop - Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Roosters) v Josh Papalii (Raiders)
Waerea-Hargreaves, the leader of the Roosters pack, will be out to make amends for the suspension that forced him to miss the preliminary final. His impact is felt with timely runs and big tackle shots. Papalii has been the league's best prop this season, and proved it with his man-of-the-match effort in their preliminary final win. Expect big collisions and fireworks early in this heavyweight battle.
Second-row - Boyd Cordner (Roosters) v John Bateman (Raiders)
Inspirational Australia, NSW and Roosters leader Cordner produced arguably his best performance of the year in their preliminary final win and he will be up for the challenge posed by England international Bateman, who has stunned the league with an extraordinary transition to the NRL this year.
© AAP 2019