Chambers won't dwell on what might have been
To pass, or not to pass? That is the question Storm centre Will Chambers will likely ponder during the off-season following Melbourne's heart-stopping 14-12 loss to the Sharks in the NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final.
The 28-year-old was his side's most potent threat in attack on Sunday night, but it was his decision not to pass back inside to an unmarked Cooper Cronk late in the game that proved to be one of the biggest plays in the game.
Down by two and with less than five minutes remaining, Chambers sparked something out of nothing with a freakish grubber kick and regather, but instead of lobbing the ball back infield to his halfback, he dummied and was tackled close to the line.
It's impossible to tell whether he could have managed to control the pass at such speed and being slightly off-balance, but had it come off, the grand final result would have been much different.
"That's just all instinct. I don't know what I did," Chambers said after the game.
"I just saw that there was space in the backfield so I put that kick through and I just chased it and was fortunate that the ball popped into my hands. You look at it and probably think 'what if I passed' but it's not to be.
"[I saw him] very late. He (Cronk) said to me when we were jogging back 'why didn't you pass' and I just said to him 'there were a lot of what ifs. What if Marika (Koroibete) had run around at the end, then what would have happened'. That's part and parcel and that's footy."
Cronk said he was stung by the result, but refused to apportion any of the blame to Chambers.
"When you get in those quick, split-second moments, you need to back your skills," Cronk said.
"Will obviously backed himself, and I'm not sure if he saw me. It's pretty loud in stadiums like this so it's not exactly like a conversation between you and I. It was a little opportunity, but that wasn't the difference.
"I don't want to use too many dramatic, descriptive words, but it hurts. It hurts a lot. Unfortunately I've been in this position before and it doesn't really help you deal with it, but hopefully the sun comes up in the morning and we move on."
Storm coach Craig Bellamy echoed his halfback's comments, adding that he thought the star centre was one of Melbourne's best on the night.
Chambers finished the game with a try, 176 metres and two line breaks, but couldn't deliver the pass his coach and every Storm supporter wanted to see.
"I wished he'd have passed it," Bellamy lamented.
"That's easy for us, you can sit there and watch it on video and go slow-motion and it was definitely on I'd imagine, but having said that, he's got real-time speed there.
"If he throws it, did he have time to throw it accurately? It might have been in a position in his hands where it might have gone forward.
"He was, if not our best player, one of our best players tonight so we're not going to hold Will responsible for that.
"It was a great play just to get in that position. We would have loved him to pass it after what happened but that's easy for us sitting here and a little bit hard for him."
For Chambers, the result is one that will take a while to recover from, but considering the Storm were picked by virtually no one to make it this far, it's a year he will look back on with plenty of pride.
"All the journos wrote us off at the start of the year. All the experts wrote us off but we just stuck in there," he said.
"We had a hell of a lot of injuries with me being one of them, but we fought through until the end. It's a tough cookie to swallow, but we have eight weeks to get over it.
"It's pretty numb. That was a tough one to swallow. We were so close yet so far. You've got to fight another 12 months to get that result. That's rugby league. There had to be a loser tonight and unfortunately we came out the worse side."