NRL GRAND FINAL
Six years after his first NRL grand final appearance, Cooper Cronk says Melbourne's big-game experience can give them the edge in Sunday's clash with Canterbury.
Cronk is one of eight players in the Storm's 17-man squad to have played in a premiership decider, having appeared in the 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 finals.
In comparison, only Krisnan Inu, Sam Perrett, former Storm prop Aiden Tolman, David Stagg and Dene Halatau, who is likely to be 18th man, have played in the biggest game of the year.
Cronk was 22, and in his third NRL season, when the Storm lost the 2006 final against Brisbane and admits he was unprepared mentally for the occasion.
And the Queensland and Australia halfback has warned Canterbury's youthful halves pairing of Josh Reynolds and Kris Keating that merely aspiring to win will be no good to them against the Storm.
"Back then I had an OK season, and it was my first year of playing halfback," Cronk said.
"I sort of hoped we'd finish the year off well and I didn't perform.
"It was a lesson.
"You need to have the belief and confidence to know how to go out there and execute your plays well, not just hope you can," he said.
Cronk also said the build-up to a grand final could be as difficult to handle as the game itself.
"The hardest challenge is to keep football at the front of your mind.
"A few guys in this side have played in GFs, and that may help us ... if we all do our jobs well."
Despite Reynolds' and Keating's lack of experience, Cronk believes having Des Hasler in the Bulldogs' corner is a huge advantage.
"What better man to have there as coach than Des," he said.
"Not many people have won two premierships, and those two boys and Benny Barba ... can only benefit from that."
Storm skipper Cameron Smith is not surprised at how quickly Hasler's made his mark on the Bulldogs. He said the grand final would feature two of the best coaches in the game. AAP