MOVE over Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk.
Ben Barba who?
The real action this Sunday isn’t between the Melbourne Storm and the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs in the 2012 NRL decider, the NSW Cup grand final featuring Newtown and Balmain will be the big crowd pleaser.
It’s enough to have old Bluebag Tommy Raudonikis face slap himself in excitement.
Newtown and Orange junior Daniel Mortimer pulled off the upset of the NSW Cup season in beating minor premiers and two-time defending premiers Canterbury 34-6 at Leichhardt Oval last Sunday to qualify for the decider.
Balmain, too, surprised many with a cracking 26-24 preliminary final win over Newcastle.
Remarkably, the first of the grand finals this Sunday at Homebush’s ANZ Stadium pitting two of the oldest club’s in rugby league against one and other, will be the seventh placed Jets up against the eighth place Tigers.
“I don’t think that’s ever happened before. It’s crazy,” Mortimer, one of the Jets best throughout the 2012 NSW Cup finals series, said.
“We’ve got the new finals system too which is meant to make it harder for the teams outside the top four to make it.”
Mortimer said as much as the Jets played well to earn a place in the grand final, the Bulldogs were well off their game.
“They played pretty ordinary, they had a lot of drop ball and in the first 25 minutes we really went toe-to-toe with one another but they were 6-0 up. Then, with about six minutes left in the first half we put on three quick tries,” he said.
“The Dogs were the minor premiers and they’ve been the benchmark in the NSW Cup for the last three years so we knew we had a big job to do.
Sunday’s game against the Tigers will be Mortimer’s second senior grand final in four seasons after the livewire half led Parramatta to the NRL decider in 2009, eventually going down to the Storm.
A CYMS junior, Mortimer was hoping to improve on his record of seven losses and just one win on grand final day, stretching back to his time in the green and gold.
And he believes the Jets have the team to do it. “It’s NSW Cup, you get a few players back come finals time and anything can happen,” he said.
The NSW Cup grand final kicks off at 12.05pm at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.