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Is a fairytale finish looming for arguably the greatest player of all time, or will youthful exuberance and confidence take a special group of kids to the top?

Melbourne and Penrith will meet in the 2020 Telstra Premiership decider having been the two best teams all year, finishing second and first respectively.

All eyes are on Storm captain Cameron Smith. Will he retire after a peerless 430 matches across 19 seasons?

He's given nothing away despite the intense interest, but the scenes at Suncorp Stadium after Melbourne's preliminary final win over Canberra were perhaps indicative of a man bidding farewell.

The Panthers are shooting for 18 straight victories, led by star halfback Nathan Cleary and his father, coach Ivan.

Penrith are conceding vast experience to the Storm, but they're yet to be overawed as belief courses through them.

The last time the Panthers played in a grand final was 2003, when they collected the club's second title, while Melbourne have now made four of the past five deciders, losing in 2016 and 2018 and tasting success in 2017.

The rundown

Team news

Panthers: Ivan Cleary has made a late switch with Tyrone May coming into the starting side at centre and Brent Naden reverting to the bench as he did in the preliminary final.

Viliame Kikau will return from a one-game suspension in the back row, with Kurt Capewell named on the bench and Mitch Kenny out of the 17.

Hooker Api Koroisau suffered a shoulder "burner" injury in last week's win over Souths but he is good to go.

Dean Whare and Spencer Leniu were omitted from the reserves list 24 hours before kick-off. Matt Burton and Kenny were the last two players cut an hour before game time.

The Panthers have the chance to equal their 2003 club record of 21 wins in a season.

Storm: The Storm will line up 1-17 with Tom Eisenhuth and Paul Momirovski the last two players cut an hour before kick-off.

Tui Kamikamica was ruled out 24 hours before kick-off, after missing several weeks with an ankle injury. Ryley Jacks was the other player to drop off the extended bench on Saturday.

The Storm boast 34 games of grand final experience, compared with three for the Panthers.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
    Fullback for Storm is number 1 Ryan Papenhuyzen
  • Winger for Panthers is number 2 Josh Mansour
    Winger for Storm is number 2 Suliasi Vunivalu
  • Centre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen Crichton
    Centre for Storm is number 3 Brenko Lee
  • Centre for Panthers is number 14 Tyrone May
    Centre for Storm is number 4 Justin Olam
  • Winger for Panthers is number 5 Brian To'o
    Winger for Storm is number 5 Josh Addo-Carr
  • Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome Luai
    Five-Eighth for Storm is number 6 Cameron Munster
  • Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan Cleary
    Halfback for Storm is number 7 Jahrome Hughes

Forwards

  • Prop for Panthers is number 8 James Tamou
    Prop for Storm is number 8 Jesse Bromwich
  • Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai Koroisau
    Hooker for Storm is number 9 Cameron Smith
  • Prop for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-Harris
    Prop for Storm is number 10 Christian Welch
  • 2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
    2nd Row for Storm is number 11 Felise Kaufusi
  • 2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Liam Martin
    2nd Row for Storm is number 12 Kenneath Bromwich
  • Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah Yeo
    Lock for Storm is number 13 Nelson Asofa-Solomona

Interchange

  • Interchange for Panthers is number 3 Brent Naden
    Interchange for Storm is number 14 Brandon Smith
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Kurt Capewell
    Interchange for Storm is number 15 Tino Faasuamaleaui
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 16 Moses Leota
    Interchange for Storm is number 16 Dale Finucane
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Zane Tetevano
    Interchange for Storm is number 17 Nicho Hynes

Match Officials

  • Referee: Gerard Sutton
  • Touch Judge: Chris Butler
  • Touch Judge: Todd Smith
  • Senior Review Official: Steve Chiddy

Last updated:

Key Match-up

Cameron Smith v Api Koroisau. Smith's controlling influence is still unrivalled and his endless big-game experience - this will be his eighth grand final - could prove crucial. Koroisau's return to Penrith this year has been a key reason for their form and he was immense in the preliminary final, creating constant havoc by jumping from dummy-half.

Stat attack 

Penrith beat Melbourne 21-14 in round six in what was the start of their winning streak. They've gone on to smash their previous club record of nine straight victories. But the Storm have had the wood on the Panthers overall, losing only three games against them since 2006.