Twelve months ago, rival NRL clubs were discreetly enquiring about whether Luke Keary could be forced out by Cooper Cronk's multimillion-dollar arrival at the Roosters.
On Sunday it was Keary, not Cronk, delivering the title most had pencilled in when the latter signed his services into the red, white and blue.
While Cronk somehow got himself through 78 minutes of a grand final in an effort that will go down in folklore, Keary still didn't know if the veteran half would be playing as he warmed up to take on the Storm.
When Cronk officially signed on with the Roosters last October, incumbent halves Keary and Mitchell Pearce were entitled to wonder where they stood.
The club was adamant it had both the salary cap capacity and scrum-base space to keep all three.
NRL.com understands the Gold Coast are one team that quietly asked whether Keary could be offloaded to accommodate Cronk, before Pearce emerged as the man to make way.
With Cronk in all sorts but still out there on Sunday, Keary shouldered what the 34-year-old's fractured scapula could not.
Once considered a possible casualty of the Roosters' recruitment spree, Keary is now a dual-premiership winner and proud owner of a Clive Churchill Medal.
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All after readying himself to be without Cronk – the dual-premiership, Clive Churchill Medal winner the Roosters went all out to bring into their fold.
"On Saturday morning he came in and said, 'I'm a chance' but still then he didn't know in warm-up," Keary said.
"I was still preparing in warm-up that the needle wasn't going to work and he'd be no good.
"We were doing our run-throughs and he wasn't with us. We started in here (the sheds) and he wasn't with us.
"You don't know do you, until he walked in the door and started kicking.
"I just had a quick word with him before the game because I still didn't know what he could do, and he said 'I'll have a few kicks and passes but probably just hang around the short side', which is what I expected."
Despite other clubs pricking their ears at the prospect of Keary being shuffled on by Cronk's arrival, the 26-year-old "never really" considered leaving the Roosters.
And the Roosters never broached that avenue with him or his manager, with Keary committing to a three-year extension just two weeks after Pearce joined Newcastle.
Early on in those negotiations, it's said the Roosters didn't exactly show Keary the money, Jerry McGuire-style.
In an interview with NRL.com in March, Keary said the dollars and cents didn't matter all that much to him, staying put simply made sense.
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"Money's a good thing," he said at the time.
"But you can get paid $10 million but if you're not enjoying it or you're playing bad footy or it's not a good environment, it's a tough gig."
The Roosters are clearly onto a good thing. In a column on the eve of this year's season opener, Matty Johns recalled his work with both Cronk and Keary.
Describing the latter as one of the most underrated halves in the competition, Johns described a champion Keary quality as "his willingness to be whatever his halves partner needs him to be".
With the biggest performance of his life on Sunday, Keary was exactly what Cronk and the Roosters needed him to be.
Roosters continue the party with their fans