Matt Prior is a two-time NRL Champion, and he now has the chance to join an elite group of players to have won the title both down under and in England as Leeds play in a first Grand Final in five years coming up against Champions St Helens.
The fifth place Rhinos are understandably underdogs for the game, but Prior believes they can lift the trophy at the end of 80 minutes but noted that it will take a team effort and will be won in the little moments rather than the big plays.
“It takes a team effort,” Prior said, “The little things are the big things, working hard for your mate. It’s not the flashy plays but the little plays.”
A third Grand Final appearance for the big man, this one comes towards the end of his career 12 years after his first. For Prior this means he’ll strive to enjoy this week all the more: “I’ll take it in a lot more and appreciate it more. Winning the first one after three years I didn’t appreciate hard it is to get to a Grand Final.”
With the Super League trophy up for grabs this weekend, there is no need for added motivation for the Rhinos, but they have nonetheless been given some by the number of players who will miss the showpiece event including Aidan Sezer through a head knock after a late hit from John Bateman in last week’s semi-final.
On this, Prior said: “It’s shocking luck. I feel for Sezer going through the year and making the Grand Final and not being able to play, it’s shocking.
“We’re going to be doing it for everyone in the squad. No matter who comes in this year they’ve done a fantastic job and we’ll do it for the guys that aren’t playing, it’s a group effort.”
There’s further added motivation for Prior and others in the Leeds side after they won the Challenge Cup Final in 2020 in front of no fans due to the pandemic: “Yeah definitely, not playing in front of any fans for the Challenge Cup, it was a bit weird but nonetheless, it was an amazing achievement but I’m definitely looking forward to playing at Old Trafford in front of a packed house and soaking up the atmosphere.”
But perhaps the most important motivation for Prior is the fact this could be his last chance to play in a Grand Final with the prop confirming that he will retire at the end of 2023: “That will definitely be my last season, obviously getting on a now so that will be my last year.
“I’ve got to take everything in. You don’t know what is going to happen next year.”