Mbye's 10-minute warning
Bulldogs late call-up Moses Mbye has revealed he was given just ten minutes before kick-off to prepare for the biggest game of his life.
Mbye was selected as the run-on hooker in place of injured skipper Michael Ennis, who was ruled out on Saturday with fractured bones in his left foot.
But Bulldogs coach Des Hasler waited until the 11th hour to name a replacement, and it was the 21-year-old rookie who eventually got the nod over veteran team-mate Reni Maitua.
"I found out about ten minutes before kick-off. Des keeps it pretty close to his chest. I just prepared as if I was playing," Mbye said.
"We were both ready to go. We warmed up, I thought he was playing and he thought I was playing. Unlucky for Ren, but I took my opportunity and it was good."
Despite having less than a dozen minutes to get his head around his inclusion in an NRL grand final, Mbye said he simply treated it as another game of rugby league and felt well supported by his more experienced team-mates.
"It's just a game of football. I've been playing since I was eight years old," he said.
"I looked left and right, and the boys just give you so much confidence. They'd kill for you. It was a bit of a spin and my head's probably still spinning, it'll come down tomorrow.
"To get your head around it, I just prepared as if it was another game of football, tried not to let the occasion get to me. I just tried to enjoy it, soak it up. They don't come around often."
Maitua, who lives with Mbye, had played a major role in nursing the talented playmaker through his debut season, with the two abstaining from alcohol together for the entire season.
"Obviously [he was] disappointed, but he's pretty much an older brother to me. He's really put me under his wing and showed me the ropes," Mbye said.
"He was really proud. He gave me a few words before the game, told me how proud he was and told me to enjoy it.
"He got a ring, he won a ring in '04 and he told me that it's my turn to have a ring. Unfortunately he didn't get one. His reaction, he was obviously upset but at the same time he was proud."
In the end, the first player of African descent to play in an NRL grand final was one of Canterbury's best, making a team-high 44 tackles and showing flashes of his neat footwork at dummy half.
"I think it ticks all the boxes [emotionally] to be honest," he said.
"It was a good experience, I played in a grand final and I think you take a lot out of losing one. The older boys told me they don't come around too often so the boys, we ripped in, we didn't leave anything on the pitch.
"They're big boys, the Burgess boys. They're outstanding. All respect to Souths, they played it great. They completed their sets, they held onto the footy, kicked us into corners.
"Reynolds had a good game, Keary was good. They just had a Burgess set, three Burgesses in a row, and then Greg Inglis or something like that. It's hard to stop."