North Queensland coach Paul Green has finally accepted the underdogs tag as his unfancied Cowboys bid to pull off one of the great grand final upsets in Sunday's NRL season decider in Sydney.
Michael Morgan of the North Queensland Cowboys is tackled by Jesse Bromwich of the Melbourne Storm.
Green has decided if you can't beat 'em, join 'em in embracing the Cowboys' role as grand final outsiders against Melbourne's star-studded minor premiers.
"I'm not going to waste my energy to try to convince you guys otherwise. People have made up their minds and rightly so too," Green said in his final press call before the title decider at ANZ Stadium.
"Bookmakers will tell you we are. I'll take it. It's a fact. Melbourne have been the most consistent team all year and they've been the best team all year.
"So they deserve to be favourites."
Green's position has changed since earlier in the week, when he denied playing the underdog card after the Cowboys' succession of sudden-death wins over 2016 premiers Cronulla, fourth-placed Parramatta and then the second-placed Sydney Roosters in the preliminary final.
"Being the underdog or not being the underdog, it doesn't really worry us," said the 2015 premiership-winning mentor.
"I don't really care, to be honest. What matters most is what happens between our four walls.
"But we've given ourselves a chance. Sunday is going to be a great day, regardless.
"It's probably hard not to get emotional. It's a great day. Everything points to that one final game at the end of the year. Everyone starts the year with that goal in mind."
Ethan Lowe of the Cowboys is tackled during the NRL preliminary final match between the Sydney Roosters and the North Queensland Cowboys at Allianz Stadium in Sydney.
While in-form playmaker Michael Morgan insists the Cowboys' inspired finals run has been anything but a fairytale, citing hard work as the key, Green readily accepts his side has earned a "free shot" at the title.
"We've got nothing to lose. We haven't had anything to lose the whole way through," he said.
"We haven't been expected to go this far. So, from that point of view, we're just enjoying it for what it is, stepping up to the plate and having a swing."
Melbourne captain Cameron Smith knows the Storm will encounter a dangerous beast, likening the Cowboys to their 2009 grand final opponents Parramatta, who also stormed into the season decider from eighth spot.
"It's difficult. We only just got across the line that day, I remember," the newly crowned Dally M Medallist said of facing a team riding such momentum.
"You can see that they're playing for each other. They're playing with a lot of confidence and they're playing a style of footy where they don't give the opposition a whole heap.
"They're a team that are happy to wait for you to shoot yourself in the foot - and then they capitalise.
"So we can't afford to go out there and apply pressure on ourselves like we did last week.
"We need to be able to complete our sets and play a solid 80 minutes of football to have any chance of getting a good result."