Tuggeranong's captain, Gareth Clouston in agony on the field. Photo: Graham Tidy
It's the captain's curse that has ended Tuggeranong Vikings skipper Gareth Clouston's National Rugby Championship campaign before it started.
The hard-working lock suffered a suspected torn anterior cruciate ligament in Saturday's 25-13 John I Dent Cup grand final victory against the Queanbeyan Whites at Vikings Park.
Clouston got caught awkwardly in a tackle just before half-time and didn't return for the second half.
Tuggeranong captain Gareth Clouston with the premiership trophy. Photo: Graham Tidy
He collected the premiership trophy with the assistance of Tim Cree, the club's first-grade captain, who missed the final with a knee injury.
Centre Rodney Iona was also forced to watch from the sidelines after sustaining a knee injury while filling in for Cree as skipper earlier this season.
Cree said he could have played in the final if it had been next week and would be right for selection for the Canberra Vikings for the inaugural NRC season.
Clouston isn't as fortunate, the 28-year-old going through mixed emotions in the midst of premiership celebrations.
"I'm sure it's going to sink in later, but it's pretty devastating for this to happen with the NRC just around the corner,'' Clouston said.
"I heard a pop and I knew straight away it wasn't good.
"It was pretty tough to watch the second half from the bench, but to win a competition is always a special feeling.''
Clouston joined the Vikings three years ago after moving to Canberra to reunite with coach Dan McKellar, who is now in charge of the NRC team.
The NRC team will be training this week, with a large contingent of Vikings players involved.
One of those is outside centre Nigel Ah Wong, who scored all the Vikings' three tries in the grand final.
Ah Wong has signed a two-year contract with the Brumbies until the end of 2016.
"Nigel was brilliant today, he's been a great addition to the team this season,'' Clouston said.
"He's got amazing pace and knows how to find the try line.
"I'm sure he'll have a great NRC season and will be pushing for a place in the Brumbies team next year.''
Whites captain Dan Penca would have been involved in the NRC, but is flying out on Sunday for an overseas holiday.
The openside flanker became just the second player from a losing team to be named the player of the game in a grand final.
"It's obviously a great honour, but it doesn't mean as much that we got beaten,'' Penca said.
"I can't fault the guys today, we put up a great performance.
"This is a very young team and we're going to be better next year.''