The NRL’s Overlooked Grand Final Champions

Over the course of the NRL era, a total of twenty-six grand finals have been fought, having winners and losers. An additional grand final, the 1997 Super League decider, brings the total to twenty-seven. There have been many iconic champions who have lifted the trophy on their victory laps, including players like Allan Langer, Isaah Yeo, Cameron Smith, Steve Menzies, and Latrell Mitchell. However, some grand final winners have faded into obscurity over the years, and are mostly forgotten by all but the most fervent fans of their clubs. This article presents a team of players who, while having won grand finals for their respective clubs, are largely forgotten in today’s landscape.

Luke Phillips, who played for the Roosters in 2002, is a player who is often left out of discussions about grand final winners. He managed to secure the No. 1 jersey ahead of Anthony Minichiello and Brett Mullins, but his career was unfortunately cut short due to injuries. Craig Smith, who played for the Storm in 1999, is another player who is often underestimated. Despite only having 22 first grade games to his name, he left a lasting impression on both Storm and Dragons fans. He scored 10 vital goals from 12 attempts in their semi-final, final, and the grand final, helping the Storm secure their victory.

Steve Bell was a standout center who largely went unnoticed during his time with the Storm. Despite playing six finals games for Melbourne, he only found success after joining Manly in 2006 and played a critical role in their victorious grand final game against his old club. Paul Momirovski is a big center who played for the Panthers in 2021. He has only played 60 games in his six seasons in the top grade to date, the highlight being the Panthers’ grand final win.

Daniel Fitzhenry was known for his versatility and contributed to the Tigers’ victory in 2005, displaying his ability to play in various positions. Sean Rudder, a relatively unknown player, stepped up to the plate after the departure of star five-eighth Matthew Johns, proving to be a valuable player for the Knights. Shane Perry, a player who barely made a dent in previous seasons, grabbed a golden opportunity to take the place of the first-choice halfback and ultimately contributed to the Broncos’ premiership victory in 2006.

Ben Cross, Phillip Lee, Michael Weyman, Glenn Hall, Clint Newton, and Tony Grimaldi are a few more players who deserve to be remembered for their contributions to their respective clubs’ grand final victories. These players may have gone unnoticed by many, but they played crucial roles in their teams’ successes and deserve to be recognized for their efforts.