Josh Papalii has revealed he played 80 minutes of the grand final with an injured pectoral muscle after being hit in the first tackle of the game.
Papalii was one of the Canberra Raiders' best in a bruising battle on Sunday night, but ultimately the Green Machine fell short of their title goal.
The silver lining to a stellar season is that Papalii, Jarrod Croker and Jack Wighton will all be in line for Australian selection on Monday.
But that will do little to ease the pain, and Papalii will be managing injury after a 14-8 defeat to the Sydney Roosters.
"I don't know what to say. I thought we built momentum in the back end of the second half and just a few crucial calls didn't go our way," Papalii said.
"We couldn't defend for the long shifts and then [James] Tedesco scores. We're happy with the season, but it's disappointing.
"It'd say it's [the most shattered I've been]. I'm lost for words, it was there for the taking and we just didn't take it.
"It wasn't meant to be. I [hurt] my pec. Something new, I think in the first tackle of the game."
The debate over Jared Waerea-Hargreaves or Papalii being the superior prop will have to be settled at a later date.
For all of Waerea-Hargreaves' class and enthusiasm in the opening half, his No.8 opposite was bloody tough.
The return of Waerea-Hargreaves and his importance to the Sydney Roosters became clear in the opening set of the game when he carted the ball up twice and drew plenty of defenders with him.
He had five runs after almost as many minutes and punched out 36 minutes in the opening half to be the only forward to run for more than 100m. Shattered to miss the preliminary final because of a tripping charge, Waerea-Hargreaves was a little too enthusiastic at times, laying all over John Bateman and gifting the Raiders a penalty in front.
While Waerea-Hargeaves was given a decent spell early in the second half, Papalii started to make his presence felt. Making his efforts extra special was the fact Papalii did it with what appeared to be a painful right neck or shoulder problem.
He continued to trouble the Roosters and at one stage rifled an offload despite the attention of four defenders.
By the 55th minute Papalii was out of gas and in pain and came from the field. He still had time to sneak a little wave to a loved one behind the bench while his right shoulder was frantically worked on.
He only needed his customary 10 minutes and was straight back into action. Papalii was clearly not right and continued to look in plenty of discomfort the remainder of the game. Even if Stuart would have wanted to drag him off at the death, Papalii would not have let him.
He finished with 16 runs for 143m and failed to miss a single of his 31 tackles to end a year to remember.
Provided his injury is not too serious, Papalii will return to the Kangaroos and get another showdown with Waerea-Hargreaves and New Zealand at the end of the month.
Waerea-Hargreaves looked better the longer the game went on and he was impossible to miss with his socks down around his ankles.
His hit-up from the kick-off after James Tedesco's try and was nothing short of inspiring.Waerea-Hargreaves punched the air at full-time and celebrated with his teammates. Poor Papalii laid flat on his back on his own just a few metres away in pain.
The Roosters won, but nothing could split the giants.
- SMH/The Age