Veteran Lewis still pinching himself
Cronulla back-rower Luke Lewis, with just four games of rugby league under his belt since dislocating his shoulder at the World Cup in England back in November, says he is pinching himself that he has now been a part of the Blues side that ended Queensland's eight-year reign.
Speaking to journalists after the Blues' 6-4 Game Two win, Lewis – the only current squad member to have tasted a series win, which came as a winger back in 2004 – said the long-serving players had endured a lot of heartache leading up to NSW's momentous victory.
"It's definitely worth it now – we've had a great couple of weeks together and the last three years we've really come together as a team. To win it tonight, in Sydney, is a pretty surreal feeling," Lewis said.
"I just hope I don't wake up tomorrow and it's game day and we have to start again. I can't really describe how I'm feeling at the moment but I'm absolutely stoked to be a part of it."
Having been rushed back into the side just one game back from a long-term shoulder injury, Lewis is well aware he is fortunate to be where he is now.
"I'm just stoked to be here. With my shoulder injury in the World Cup I didn't think I'd be back, especially for Game One after only one game [for Cronulla].
"I still pinch myself really but Loz [Blues coach Laurie Daley] showed a lot of faith in me and he told me how he was going to play me and what he wanted for me and that's all I could do was go out and do my job for him and the team. Fingers crossed I've done that and hopefully I'm there for Game Three.
"He puts a lot of trust in you and you gain a lot from that. He's one of those blokes you'd do a lot for and it was great to win for him as well as for the blokes next to you."
Lewis said it was great to help earn the win for his fellow old stagers who had been around the side for a long time.
"There's a lot of guys that have been there for a while with Haynesy, Gal, Farah, Choccy, Birdy, the list goes on, the Morris brothers.
"We're really good mates off the field, we talk a lot away from footy, but to come into camp, Game I, to win up there was a great feeling but to do it [wrap up the series] down here with those kind of guys who've been through the hard part and just to enjoy this moment, words can't describe."
In what was a scrappy game with plenty of errors, missed opportunities and niggle, Lewis paid credit to the side's defence which for the second time in three weeks won them the game, this time keeping Queensland from crossing their line.
"We had to defend like that in the last part of Game One and we've drawn a lot of confidence out of that," he said.
"I thought our defence was pretty solid – they got their four points from two goals. They're a great side, they can score points from anywhere. The scramble was really good, everyone kept turning up for each other and that's all you can really ask for in this team and everyone did it, no-one wanted to let the bloke next to you down."
He said the win was sweeter for him than the 2004 success now that he knew how hard it was to win a series.
"I was a lot younger back then and probably didn't enjoy the occasion as much as I should have and didn't realise how hard it was to win one. To be here tonight with the blokes that I've got around me and the coaching staff, what we all wanted to achieve as a group is pretty amazing.
"It's been a tough eight years but I think we definitely got closer and closer over the years. It's just good to see that the teammates, the mateship that we've built off the field over the last three years has come together and we all get to enjoy it together. You can't describe it."
Lewis said the immediate outpouring of emotion after the final siren, which saw several senior Blues including Hayne, Gallen and Farah in tears, had given him goose bumps.
"I get goose bumps when you say it [now] – when that bell went and we knew we won I got goose bumps from my legs all the way up, I had hairs standing on the back of my neck, I still can't believe it really," he said.
He also paid tribute to the crowd who had endured through all the hard times to stick by the side.
"It's good to get that win in Sydney in front of those guys. Blatchy's Blues, they've been outstanding. They keep getting bigger every year. It's great to see Sydney get behind us, I heard it was probably a record crowd in Sydney which is pretty special so a big thanks to those guys."