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Storm gathers as Tigers hunt more grand final history

Brisbane Tigers head to Sydney for grand final day with the aim to become the first Queensland team to take out the NRL State Championship in seven years; but they are going to need Victorian help – specifically that of the Melbourne Storm – to do it.

The Tigers upset perennial finals powerhouse Burleigh Bears in this year’s Hostplus Cup grand final and will now face New Souths Wales Cup winners South Sydney Rabbitohs on Sunday.

Queensland teams won the first two NRL State Championships after the Cairns-based Northern Pride stunned the Panthers in the inaugural game in 2014 and the Ipswich Jets upset Newcastle Knights in 2015, but since then, NSW sides have dominated.

Contracted to the Storm, halfback Jonah Pezet was a late inclusion for the Tigers in the grand final side after battling a hamstring injury, but capped off an up-and-down season by helping steer his team to a drought-breaking win.

However, he will need to be at his best again against a dangerous Bunnies side who stole a late victory against North Sydney in the The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup last Sunday.

“I did my hammy first week of finals and was probably a bit touch-and-go … and then I think at the end there, I was out on one leg, but that effort from the boys there was outstanding,” Pezet said following the win.

“We said all week we'd win it in the 80th minute and to defend our cage like that against those blokes who have been in scoring 30-40 points against every team; couldn't be prouder of this group of blokes.

Hostplus Cup grand final highlights: Tigers v Bears

“(To win was) outstanding; we haven't spoken about it all year, but I think the last six grand finals the Tigers have been in; we haven't won one.

“That was the first Hostplus Cup grand final we've won and we were the underdogs. I think all week everyone was talking about Burleigh by how much; we went to the [QRL] awards ceremony and we didn't get anyone in Team of the Year; but we came out today and we beat them; I'm just so proud of this group of blokes and what we've done all year.

“We should be right (for our next game against the NSW Cup winners), we’ll rest up and be ready to go. It’ll be a good grand final day, so I can't wait.”

Pezet – the son of former South Queensland and Parramatta halfback Troy Pezet – has overcome a broken collarbone and injuries to his hamstring and calf this season, and made his NRL debut in Round 3 this year against the Titans.

He was one of seven Melbourne players to feature in the against Burleigh, while this week, there will be eight players in – Pezet, Kane Bradley, Tristan Powell, George Jennings, Joe Chan, Jordan Grant, Cole Geyer plus the addition of Marion Seve.

Pezet gets over on debut

For Storm General Manager Football Frank Ponissi, having both of Melbourne’s feeder clubs, including Sunshine Coast Falcons, make the finals was an achievement and seeing the Tigers celebrate their first grand final win in 32 years was extra special.

“We're really pleased for Tigers; 1991 was their last victory and so many of the officials and staff have been involved for such a long time that they deserve it, we're really pleased,” Ponissi said.

“It's our 13th season together as a partnership, it's our (Storm-affiliated) fourth grand final since that time, so we have finally got one, we’re really pleased.

Tristan Powell scores the opening try of the 2023 Hostplus Cup grand final for Brisbane Tigers.
Tristan Powell scores the opening try of the 2023 Hostplus Cup grand final for Brisbane Tigers. ©Zain Mohammed / QRL

“We've had so many players come out of the last couple of grand finals onto bigger and better things and I'm sure we've got a lot more out of today as well.

“(The Storm-contracted players) were fantastic … (Pezet) really pushed hard to play and it was fantastic to see him do that.

“It was a great experience for him as well; he had his debut this year in the NRL, but playing a big game like this is terrific.

“Hopefully … they can win the national title, which would be terrific for Brisbane Tigers and us.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Melbourne Storm respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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