Lachlan Fitzgibbon has waited six years to play in his first final series.
It's taken him 78 NRL games and three wooden spoons to get there.
And here he was, slumped on the bench a fortnight ago during the second half of the Dragons clash on Old Boys' day at McDonald Jones Stadium with his groin swathed in ice packs, hoping he hadn't blown the chance.
A chronic pelvis problem that had been troubling him for the past few months without flaring out of control suddenly flared out of control.
"The thought [missing the finals] definitely crossed my mind at the time and I was a bit worried about it," he said.
"My pelvis is on a bit of a tilt and it's been pulling a bit. When it gets out of alignment, it pulls from all angles and pulls up the top of my abs and in the groin.
"It's not ideal but it's something I've had to manage."
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Fitzgibbon had been managing it okay up until then.
"Prior to the Dragons game, it normally warmed up as the game went on and I've been able to get through," he said.
"But in that Dragons game, it just didn't warm up at all and I was struggling with it leading into halftime. I was hoping it would settle down but after we went into the sheds at the break, it just completely locked up on me. That worried me a bit not really knowing what was going on and how bad it might be."
Thankfully for the Knights backrower, a cortisone injection straight after the game set his mind at ease.
"I wasn't sure whether it would even respond to the cortisone but thankfully, it responded really well and it settled it right down," he said. "Now it's just a matter of trying to stay on top of it."
The short turnaround from the Dragons into the Titans game saw him sit out a week to make sure he was ready to go for Souths on Sunday. As it turned out, it wasn't such a bad game to miss.
Now, with no second chances, it's a matter of rebounding strongly and putting it all on the line.
"We'll go in confident because we all know what we are capable of and we know we can go down there and get the job done," he said.
"Earlier in the year, we were in the same position up against Souths in Sydney with pretty similar sides and we were really strong to lead 20-0 before the last 10 minutes where we let it slip. They are a side who can pile on the points quickly. We have to be wary of that and start strong and stay strong throughout the 80 minutes."
Fitzgibbon, who debuted in late 2015, remembers being in the crowd two seasons prior when the club played its last finals game.
"It feels like a long time coming since that day," he said. "There's obviously a few of us that haven't played in a finals game and there are plenty of us that have played over 60-odd games now.
"For me personally, for the town and our supporter base, it's a massive deal to finally be back in there and it's going to be a real buzz. We can't wait."
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