Cowboys prop James Tamou – one of the best players on the field in his side's epic 17-16 Grand Final win over Brisbane – says he still wasn't confident in his suspect neck ahead of the big game.
Tamou also told NRL.com he hadn't been sure he'd scored his first half try until the referees actually awarded it.
Having burst onto a perfectly timed flat ball at the Brisbane line from hooker Jake Granville, the ease with which Tamou spun out of half a tackle to plant the ball down had the big prop thinking something must have been wrong with the play.
"It was [awesome] – I crossed over but it was a bit quiet and in my head I thought 'what's going on?' I thought this is too good to be real, it's not a try. I was pretty pleased [when they awarded it] but it's all part of doing my job," he said.
Tamou added the side had been getting frustrated by the effectiveness of Brisbane's goal line defence in the face of repeated Cowboys raids.
"It was really frustrating. You're putting so much effort in attack for no reward then you turn around and you've got to 'D' up when you've given it your all. It was very frustrating but how it turned out like it did was amazing," he said.
"It's hard to explain [the feeling]. I'm just so happy for the boys that can be a part of this mob here, I'm happy for them when you see the tears and everything like that, it's all worth it."
He added once winger Kyle Feldt levelled the scores in the final second of regular time there had been no doubt skipper Johnathan Thurston would nail the sideline conversion to win the game.
"When that try went over, I actually thought 'we've done this, Johnno's going to kick this easy, this is what he does'," Tamou said.
"But he didn't obviously, so I thought I'll roll my sleeves back up because we're going again. Just sort of watching it unfold as it did – I still can't believe it. The Broncos held us out so well in that second half in true Broncos style like they do."
Of his own well-publicised neck injury which saw him well below his best at the start of the season and at his lowest stages contemplate the end of his NRL career, Tamou stopped short of saying it was worthwhile to have ended with a premiership, adding he had still been worried about the injury heading into Sunday's game despite his powerful form over the prior fortnight.
"It was really tough, the whole year, going into games not confident, even this game I wasn't confident in myself but I knew I had to stand up for the boys around me and I knew I had a job to do and I'm just glad it happened like it did," he said.
"We won. I wouldn't have enjoyed my off season if we didn't. It would've been tough to go back to Townsville. But now we can go back there and take the trophy."
That trophy will be taken up to be presented to one of the most fanatical – and certainly the most persistent in terms of travelling to games – supporter bases in the NRL.
"They are fanatical up there and I know they'll be partying until we get home," Tamou said.
"I can't wait to face them and show them the trophy. We made them proud, the ones that stuck with us for the last few years, they come home disappointed sometimes but they stuck strong and now we can show them this [premiership]."
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