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Grand final rookies inspiring Storm teammates

The Storm will field three grand final debutants for Sunday's Telstra Premiership grand final against the Roosters, with Brodie Croft, Brandon Smith and Joe Stimson all getting their first taste of a premiership decider.

Their journeys to the summit of the NRL season echoes the defending premiers' overperforming year.

Croft, 21, was seen as a ready-made – albeit raw – replacement for the departing Cooper Cronk at halfback.

But he was axed after five rounds and didn't return to the role on a permanent basis until round 23.

Ryley Jacks and Jahrome Hughes took their chances at certain stages, but Croft fought his way back to reclaim the finals No.7 jersey.

Brandon Smith has spent time at lock as well as hooker this year. His versatility – plus his energetic displays through the middle – gave Storm coach Craig Bellamy no choice but to pick him for his grand final side.

But two of the Storm's most improved in 2018 are Stimson and Christian Welch, with the latter playing as a young pup in the club's 2016 grand final loss to the Sharks.

And with the likes of experienced players like Ryan Hoffman and Sam Kasiano joining the club for 2018, few would have picked their younger colleagues to keep them out of the side.

"[Welch] came off the back of a knee reconstruction. It's a huge job for him to come back from that and hold Sam Kasiano out of the team," star Storm prop Jesse Bromwich said.

"He's a main part of the team now. He's doing a great job for us at the moment, particularly with his defence.

"[Stimson] was unlucky last year and was playing good football to us. Tohu Harris came back into our team and took Joe's spot. He's done a great job at stepping up this year and battling it out with Hoffman in that left edge spot."

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Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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