I’m a huge American sports fan. Always have been.

I sent out a tweet this week, suggesting that we should have a two week build-up to the Grand Final.

I was ridiculed pretty quickly! But if you think about it, I reckon it would be unbelievable. Two weeks of community appearances, member breakfasts and corporate functions… the build-up would be huge!

But I guess most people just want the footy.

We’d play rugby league all year-round if we could.

Having won an NRL Premiership ring with St. George in 2010, I know first-hand how amazing Grand Final week is.

It is one of the best build-ups to your football career; we were lucky, under Wayne Bennett, the coaching master himself had been there seven times, so he was able to ensure we had the best possible preparation.

Wayne was able to control the environment and the emotions. For us, all we really had to do was turn up and play our natural game.

Outside of him, I don’t think anyone has done it better than Craig Bellamy, Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and the rest of the Melbourne Storm boys.

It’s actually quite remarkable what they have achieved over such a long period of time, and I can absolutely see them being the first team in the NRL era to win back-to-back premierships.

What’s impressed me most is just their consistency. I compare them to what we see with the likes of the New England Patriots.

They continue to get their stars to play at this high, elite level and the guys that come in to simply to do their job, making them unstoppable when they get going.

Dale Finucane and Cameron Smith embrace during the 2017 NRL Grand Final match between the Melbourne Storm and the North Queensland Cowboys at ANZ Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.
Dale Finucane and Cameron Smith embrace during the 2017 NRL Grand Final match between the Melbourne Storm and the North Queensland Cowboys at ANZ Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.

To think they started the year, one and two. How everyone was saying that this may be the end of the Bellamy era.

I never probably saw them as favourites, but nor did I see them dipping. You write off Cameron Smith and his team, at your own foolishness.

I did power ranking for NRL.com and I rated them as the best chance to go back-to-back and better than I rated my own chances with the Dragons in 2011.

We had put so much into that drought-breaking run in 2010, and once we were hungrier just thought that there was probably a difference.

But the Melbourne Storm, continuing year after year to remain hungrier, and to be able to do it this year without a genuine halfback and the loss of one of the greatest halfbacks in Cooper Cronk.

It’s a testament to their game plan, and reaffirms the widespread belief around the competition that they have one of the best systems in world sport.

If I had one message for either team… it would be to simply play no different. Why do anything different to what got you to this point?

If you make it to a grand final, it’s because you belong there. You can’t fall into a premiership game.

Jamie Soward

No other team was able to survive for this long; they didn’t have the discipline, skill or game plan to outlast you.

So don’t change anything, and execute better than you have all year.

And don’t forget… it’s a pleasure to even be here, so enjoy every moment. Slow down, and soak it all in.

You’re trying to get the game, and leave a legacy that will last for a hundred years.

Believe in yourself, back in your teammates and don’t let anyone stand in the way of you reaching your goal.

Do that… and there’s a good chance you’ll be wearing a premiership ring after the final siren.