The Proud Father
Time to celebrate: Mitchell Pearce of the Roosters. Photo: Brendan Esposito
He was left heartbroken by grand final defeats in the 1980s but the tears welling up in Wayne Pearce's eyes on Sunday night were the result of joy not agony.
The former Balmain captain, an ARL Commission member, sat on the sidelines as his son Mitchell, the Sydney Roosters halfback, atoned for the Tigers' shattering defeats in the 1988 and 1989 premiership deciders.
Pearce snr finished his wonderful career never tasting grand final glory but said the success of the 24-year-old Roosters No.7 felt like his own.
''It was very emotional,'' Pearce said of greeting his son after full-time. ''I had to fight back tears, but that was to be expected. It just feels like I've won one myself. I'm over the moon. It's just fantastic.''
Pearce's Tigers played in what is widely regarded as the greatest grand final of all time - the 1989 thriller against Canberra.
Sunday night's finale may not be remembered quite in that class but it was unquestionably top shelf, with the Roosters fighting back from 18-8 down to win 26-18.
''I knew they just needed to get a bit of ball,'' Pearce said of the Roosters. ''They were making too many mistakes. If they got a bit of ball, which they did, they'd put a couple of tries on, I thought. It showed a lot of ticker to come back against an experienced side like Manly, coming from that far behind.''
Of Mitchell he added: ''He did what had to be done. He did well tonight. I'm very proud of him.''
On the other side of the equation, Manly front-rower George Rose said he was sad to be leaving the Sea Eagles knowing what could have been.
''I had a chat to the boys after it. It's going to be hard to leave,'' said Rose, who will join Melbourne next season. ''They're a real good group of fellas, and I've had a great time here. It's hard walking away from them.''
Rose was a member of the 2011 Manly premiership team and said he had not experienced grand final defeat ''since under-15s for the Bathurst Penguins''.
''That one didn't hurt as much as this one, though,'' he said. ''I'm pretty sad to know that we still could have got the win. It's just a shame that we couldn't be the ones out there singing the song.''