Holden Cup hero could have been an Eel
He might have only played a total of 81 minutes this season but Sea Eagles forward Keith Titmuss is not only a premiership winner; he's also the reason why Manly claimed their maiden NYC title with a heart-stopping 20-18 win over the Eels.
The underdogs looked dead and buried when they fell 14 points behind early in the first half but stormed back into the contest with three tries either side of half-time to level things up with plenty of time left on the clock.
Parramatta retook the lead with 10 minutes remaining and looked headed for their first under-20s title, only for Manly to break their hearts through an unlikely source with the final play of the game.
Charging onto a ball from hooker Manase Fainu, the fresh legs of Titmuss proved too much for the tiring defence as he charged through the front line to crash over next to the posts before Tevita Funa coolly slotted the conversion to seal the two-point win.
Things never come easily in the under-20s and there was a moment of panic as his try was sent upstairs for a review after he almost had the ball jolted free by Eels fullback Anthony Layoun while spectacularly diving for the line.
The fact it was Titmuss who scored the match-winner is an incredible story given he only played five matches this season; four of those in the finals – and he could easily have been playing in Eels colours.
Having played 13 minutes off the bench in Round 5, Titmuss didn't get another shot until Week One of the finals where he did enough to convince coach Wayne Lambkin to pick him for the remainder of the finals, albeit in the No.19 jersey.
"I just pushed up off our hooker Manase, did my job and hit the hole," he told NRL.com after the game.
"I was 50/50 on whether to do the dive and I didn't really know if I'd scored, but once I saw a replay on the big screen, I knew I was okay.
"It was just the emotion of winning; I hadn't planned on doing anything like that so it just came out of nowhere.
"It's easily the biggest moment of my career. I'm just lost for words right now."
His teammates were forced to hold their breath as they watched him dive over, with Tevita Funa telling NRL.com he had no idea if it was a try or not until he saw a replay of the grounding.
"With that massive dive, I thought he dropped the ball," Funa said.
"I'm so relieved for him to score because he's worked hard for us. Full credit to Manase for putting him through because we'd been trying to go out the back all day and they were stopping us so it was good for him to straighten us up through the middle."
Just to add some more intrigue to the narrative, Titmuss was originally an Eels junior before he decided to move to the Northern Beaches two years ago.
"I'm originally from the Parra comp," the grand final hero revealed.
"I joined Manly two years ago and have been going through the grades ever since Harold Matts. There was more opportunity at Manly and a better environment so I'm loving life on the beaches; they're treating me really well.
"I have no issues with Parramatta at all – they're a great club – but I just wanted a fresh start."