Winners and losers: NRL’s most experienced finals teams
"THE finals series is a different competition."
You've no doubt heard that line come out of the mouth of a few coaches and players over the past week.
If that is the case, experience in this part of the season could prove invaluable.
Just ask Sydney Roosters co-captain Boyd Cordner about the influence of Cooper Cronk who has featured in 32 finals appearances, double that of his nearest teammate.
"He's been massive for us this season, especially mid-to-late season where we've gone on a bit of a run. He's been one of our best players," Cordner said.
"His experience … I think he's played more finals games than any of us here at the Roosters, and, probably apart from Cameron Smith and Billy Slater, anyone in the top eight.
"He's going to help us out a lot in that sense."
To determine who may have an advantage over their rivals, Fox Sports Lab has analysed every 21-man squad named on Tuesday ahead of this week's qualifying and elimination finals to find the most experienced teams.
Total finals experience: 176 games
Players' finals win percentage: 66.5
With Cameron Smith (33 games), Billy Slater (29) and Ryan Hoffman (22), it should come as no surprise that Melbourne are the most experienced team in this year's series.
Even Dale Finucane, Jesse Bromwich (both 16) and Kenny Bromwich (10) boast a decent amount of games.
Given the team's sustained success over recent years, including last year's grand final win, the team also has the best win percentage.
Total finals experience: 138 games
Players' finals win percentage: 47.1
Brisbane boast a good mix of youth and experience which sees them sit second in this category.
Sam Thaiday (24 games) and Darius Boyd (23) are the most experienced finals players in the team, followed by Alex Glenn (16).
Andrew McCullough is also a big in for the team following concussion given he's got 13 finals games to his name.
But perhaps the Broncos' biggest trump card is coach Wayne Bennett who's in his 33rd NRL season with a whopping 64 games of finals experience.
"There isn't too much this time of year that Wayne hasn't experienced as a coach," former Broncos skipper Kevin Walters said.
"At this time of year it is important you get all the little things right in your game and that is where Wayne Bennett comes into his own."
Total finals experience: 129 games
Players' finals win percentage: 55.8
The Roosters have just four members of their top 17 who haven't played finals footy which puts them in good stead at this time of the year.
And the fact that they've made a grand final and three preliminary finals in the past five seasons also helps their experience.
Their marquee signing Cooper Cronk is far and away their team's most experienced finals player with a whopping 32 games, double that of teammate Mitch Aubusson who sits in second.
Jake Friend (14), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (12) and Daniel Tupou (11) follow closely behind.
Total finals experience: 118 games
Players' finals win percentage: 52.5
Cronulla are the only team to have every member of their top 17 play finals football, and that's just another reason many are regarding them to be a smoky for the title.
Out of that 17, 11 players still remain from their 2016 grand final winning team.
And it's in their forward pack where are bulk of their experience lies.
Veteran forwards Luke Lewis and Paul Gallen are the most experienced finals campaigners with 13 games each, while Matt Prior and Andrew Fifita sit one back on 12.
Wade Graham follows closely behind on 10 finals games.
Total finals experience: 84 games
Players' finals win percentage: 51.2
Having been absent from finals football since 2011, you'd think the Warriors would be the least experienced team in this category.
But their overall tally is helped by some of the experienced players they've signed in recent seasons.
Former Broncos, Storm and Wests Tigers forward Adam Blair has played the most amount of finals games with 18.
Tohu Harris is the next closest on 11, while Gerard Beale and retiring backrower Simon Mannering sit on 10 each.
In-form fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck gathered all his nine games of finals experience while he was at the Sydney Roosters, including a grand final win in 2013.
Total finals experience: 83 games
Players' finals win percentage: 50.6
Of the likely 17 to run out for Penrith in their elimination final against the Warriors, just two players are yet to taste September NRL footy (Christian Crichton and Viliame Kikau).
James Maloney has already proven to be an astute addition to the squad this season and the club will be looking to him to produce the goods given he's the most experienced finals player with 18 games, including two grand final victories.
James Tamou has the second-most finals games with 15 (including the 2015 grand final win), while Trent Merrin has 10 (including the 2010 grand final win).
Total finals experience: 74 games
Players' finals win percentage: 63.5
South Sydney have played in just one finals game since their drought-breaking premiership win in 2014.
Luckily for them, eight players from the winning side in 2014 still remain and that, no doubt, puts them in good stead for this title assault.
Inspirational skipper Greg Inglis is by far the most experienced finals campaigner with 22 appearances - he's the only player on double digits.
Adam Reynolds and John Sutton both sit on nine appearances each, while Sam Burgess has eight.
Total finals experience: 63 games
Players' finals win percentage: 42.9
The fact St George Illawarra have only played just one finals game since 2011 affects their tally here.
Marquee player and halfback Ben Hunt gathered all his finals experience while playing at the Broncos and is now the Dragons' most experienced with 13 appearances.
The same can be said about veteran prop James Graham who played all his 11 NRL finals games with the Bulldogs before joining the club this season.
The Red V will be no doubt leaning on those two players, plus Gareth Widdop (eight) and even Tim Lafai (seven), to guide them through testing times.