The tears started to well in Ricky Stuart's eyes. But they were tears of pride, not sadness. His team standing behind him, a sea of green fans in front of him and a grand final memory still burning.
What was his defining moment of the 2019 campaign? The reason why he believes the Canberra Raiders can rise from their grand final heartbreak and move forward?
"The defining moment for me was off the field," Stuart said as his voice showed the slightest sign of wobbling.
"And how our squad [bonded] together. They're a very close group of blokes and they've done themselves so proud. I'm so fortunate to be their coach."
Then Stuart politely tapped the announcer on the shoulder, motioned he'd said enough and moved to the back to let his players soak up the praise of adoring fans.
The Raiders are still hurting two days after their premiership dreams were shattered and as controversy rages on about crucial refereeing decisions.
The team was welcomed back to the capital by their most loyal supporters at a function at Belconnen Raiders on Tuesday, hundreds of fans packing the field for one last glimpse of a magical year for the club.
The players were looking a little worse for wear after a day of reflecting on everything that had happend.
Clive Churchill Medal winner Jack Wighton was late, but arrived just in time to get out a few words and then steal the show with the microphone.
Jordan Rapana is still missing in action, teammates and staff unable to locate the try-scoring winger after drowning their sorrows together on Monday.
But the message to the Raiders' faithful was clear. "We'll be back," Jarrod Croker said.
Croker's co-captain was the next to step up: "We've set the bar really high now. Hopefully this final is the first of many for us, it was a learning curve for us."
There was no talk about the six-again drama, which overshadowed the Sydney Roosters' six-point win.
There was no talk about the Roosters trainer who prevented Elliott Whitehead from potentially scoring a try.
What did they talk about? The way Raiders fans have shown "Canberra has a heartbeat", their pride in getting to the club's first grand final in 25 years and the determination to next time have a trophy with them when they host their next fan day.
"It broke my heart not being able to walk out here and lift the trophy in front of them," Croker said.
"If I got to come here and lift it in front of these fans, it would have been the best day of my life. Certainly it's motivation, we want to bring it back.
"I've said year in, year out how good our fans are. The best fans in the NRL."
Hundreds of fans cheered, chanted and did one final Viking clap for 2019 after coming to terms with a missed opportunity in the grand final.
Raiders crowd levels have jumped to their highest level in 24 years, with fans buying into Stuart's vision to rebuild the club into a regular premiership contender.
They fell short against some Roosters, but showed plenty of grit and determination just to reach the biggest stage in the NRL.
"I'm very proud of our performance on the weekend. It's a great disappointment we haven't got the trophy here but we certainly haven't lost anything," Stuart said.
"We gained so much respect right throughout this season and I think it was replicated again on Sunday. As a coach, I'm so proud of this mob.
"I can't thank the region and the community in Canberra enough for the drive and extra energy they gave the whole club.
"Seeing that stadium on the weekend made me proud to be a Canberran and proud to live here."