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Sharks match Storm in grand final nous

AAP logoAAP 25/09/2016 James MacSmith

Cronulla's big game experience will ensure they won't be overawed by the lead up to the NRL grand final, according to premiership-winning back-rower Chris Heighington.

Despite the considerable differences between Cronulla's recent grand final record, or lack of it, and that of their opponents in this year's decider, the Sharks can boast grand final experience that matches that of Melbourne.

The Sharks last played in a decider in the 1997 Super League grand final. Their last grand final in a united competition was in their loss in the 1978 replay to Manly.

Meanwhile, Melbourne have qualified for five deciders over the last 10 seasons.

Regardless the Sharks boast as many players who have played in the final games of the season as the Storm.

Six Sharks players in Ben Barba, James Maloney, Michael Ennis, Matt Prior, Luke Lewis and Chris Heighington have played in premiership deciders.

Six Melbourne players in Will Chambers, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith, Kevin Proctor and Dale Finucane have grand final experience.

Heighington has been a key figure in the Sharks' charge to the grand final this year, as he was when Wests Tigers won the premiership in 2005.

Like the Sharks, Wests Tigers were chasing their first title that year.

And like the Sharks, the Tigers were led by a number of hard headed veterans backed by youth.

"We were pretty confident going into the game. We had some really good senior players and they helped the younger guys out and kept them in line if they needed to be," he told AAP.

"There is a similar feeling here."

Heighington urged his Sharks teammates to enjoy the week as the Tigers did in 2005.

"You just have to embrace the hype and everything," he said.

"That is why you play the game because you want to play in the big game at the end of the year, that is why we train so hard.

"You have take it on and challenge everyone and not be nervous

"I would hate to be finished up now.

"We just have to enjoy the week."

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