Cowboy caught out by beers, barra and Bulldogs
In many respects, Kane Linnett's off-season was well and truly up and running.
After going down to the Broncos in Thursday night's opener to Round 26, the prospects of the Cowboys playing finals footy in 2017 looked bleak at best and with his father in town the Linnett men set out on Sunday for a day on the water.
There were beers drunk and barramundi caught and when 4 o'clock came around some cursory listens on the radio to the events unfolding some 2000 kilometres away at ANZ Stadium.
When the Dragons led 20-14 with 17 minutes left to play, off the coast of North Queensland the fishing lines grew longer and the esky decidedly lighter but when the Bulldogs nudged their way in front with five minutes to go, Linnett began to take the appropriate action.
"Dad kept drinking the beers and I started drinking the waters," Linnett told NRL.com.
"He'd come up for that last game against Broncos so I was out fishing in the boat with him.
"We had a couple of beers and then when we found out that the Doggies were up I pretty much put the beers away and started drinking the waters.
"The Dragons were up and then it was five minutes to go and the Doggies come back. I thought with 10 minutes to go when the Dragons were up that that was us for the year and then all of a sudden they came back and I had to get onto the waters and get home and have a good night's sleep."
The Cowboys have since parlayed their finals' stay of execution into upset wins over the Sharks and Eels and now just have 80 minutes and a flock of Roosters between them and a grand final appearance many said was impossible.
Linnett knows a thing or two about unlikely grand final runs after making his NRL debut with the Roosters in 2010 and riding it all the way through to the decider against the Dragons.
When Linnett was brought into the team in Round 14 the Roosters were sitting in ninth position and struggling but caught fire late in the season to cut a swathe through the finals series.
The 2017 edition of the Roosters have enjoyed the benefit of a week off after their qualifying final win over the Broncos but Linnett said the power of momentum should not be under-estimated in September.
"I guess it was a little bit like the way we are going up here this year," Linnett said of his dream debut season in 2010.
"We only ended up finishing sixth in the comp and we had a fair bit of luck to get into the grand final.
"We obviously had a fair bit of momentum. We got pretty lucky against the Tigers, they had a couple of tries disallowed and we come up against a few teams with a few injuries.
"We made the grand final but we had a fair bit of momentum and luck plays a big role in these big games as well."
Lost amid the euphoria of last weekend's win over the Eels was acknowledgement anywhere outside the club for Linnett's 150th game for the club.
It's a mark that only 11 players had reached before him and which Antonio Winterstein will match on Saturday and Linnett said that when he left the Roosters at the end of the 2011 season that he never imagined achieving such a milestone.
"I knew that if I worked hard and if I could get an opportunity I thought I could play some pretty consistent first grade but I probably didn't think I'd play 150 games," said the 28-year-old.
"I knew the team had a lot of talent with 'JT' (Johnathan Thurston) and Matty Bowen and others and I knew if I worked hard I'd get an opportunity to work hard alongside the best players in the world.
"It was a pretty easy decision in the end."