Mitchell Aubusson's emotions looked to briefly get the better of him as he marked the memory of his late father Brian and an all-time Roosters record of 303 appearances in moving scenes at the SCG.
Aubusson was exactly where he didn't want to be – the centre of attention – as he scored two tries in a thumping 34-18 defeat of Cronulla.
The Tricolours' favourite son was welcomed to the field by a standing ovation and guard of honour from his teammates before kick-off.
His first try of the night prompted a rare outburst from the veteran utility, with the four-pointer coming just metres from family and friends in the Noble Stand.
After full-time the club gathered for a commemorative presentation before Aubusson took a lap of honour, his wife Laura, their two young daughters, mum Lyn and brothers all on hand for the occasion.
Aubusson was unable to hug his family as they stayed on the right side of the social distancing fence.
Match Highlights: Roosters v Sharks
It's become the new normal in the toughest of seasons for the Aubussons, who suddenly lost patriarch Brian in May, the long-serving NSW fire commander passing a few weeks short of retirement.
"It's been a really tough year for my family and myself," Aubusson told Fox Sports.
"The club's been really good to me and they've rallied around me.
"They gave me the time that I needed and welcomed me back with open arms.
"A lot of my best mates are here and tonight my family's here. My two kids, my wife, my mum, my brothers.
Aubusson gets a double in his milestone match
"I'm just really proud they can all be together and celebrate a good night tonight. I definitely think the old man was looking after me tonight as well for sure."
Coach Trent Robinson paid tribute to Aubusson, who he has often described as 'the ultimate club man', and his approach throughout this final season in red, white and blue.
"It's been a really tough year with Brian passing just as we got back after COVID," Robinson said.
"The unexpected passing, then back into footy and then the restrictions around seeing your loved ones at the moment.
"We're really fortunate to be back playing. But it's also been very tough on a lot of people.
"He can't go and cuddle his kids. He can't go and cuddle his mum who's turned up for almost 300 of those games.
"It takes a toll ... it's been a tough year for Aubo. And I don't think he'd have it any other way as far as fighting for those 303 games."
Robinson expects skipper Boyd Cordner to return against South Sydney next week after his recent concussion concerns saw him rested by the club.
With a top four spot sewn up in the win over the Sharks, another host of Roosters stars could well be rested for the final round clash, as the likes of Cordner, Jake Friend, James Tedesco and Siosiua Taukeiaho all were against Cronulla.
Robinson pulled no punches in his analysis of what was a clunkier than usual victory.
Pointing to "shortcuts" being taken in his side's performance, Robinson described several aspects most often associated with Aubusson that he wants to see improvements in.
"The love of the stuff that people don't usually give you credit for," Robinson said when asked to clarify his 'shortcuts' comment.
"We just didn't have enough people doing those effort areas that the player next to you loves and loves you for. There just wasn't enough of that."