Josh Addo-Carr has "two families" he will playing for in next week's grand final in what could be his final appearance for the Storm ahead of a move north in 2021.
After the Melbourne winger booked a spot in his third title decider, courtesy of a 30-10 preliminary final win over the Raiders, he spoke of his love for his blood family and for his "second family", the Storm.
The 25-year-old misses those closest to him in Sydney and is seeking a release from his contract with the Storm next year to return to NSW, and when he articulates why it tugs at the heartstrings.
Addo-Carr was deeply apologetic after being fined $1000 for breaching social distancing rules following a trip to rural NSW earlier in the year to lift the spirits of two family members going through a tough time.
When he returned to the field it was with the aim of doing both his families proud, including the one at the Storm.
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"It's my second family. I suppose I don't see it as a job. I love playing football and my teammates have turned me into the player I always dreamed of being," he said.
"I haven't seen my family for … I don't know how long now. I had a rough start to the season. That put some fire in the belly, it made me hungrier.
"Everybody knows what happened at the start of the season and I wanted to come back and prove to my teammates that I wanted to go all the way.
I played my 100th game a couple of weeks ago and my family were right in front of me and I couldn't give them a hug. I just can't wait to see them...Josh Addo-Carr
"The whole reason why I moved down to the Storm was for my family and myself. It was a really tough decision [to seek a release] but I feel like I need to move back for my family.
"It was tough … I lost five family members in the space of two months last year and I've lost two family members recently.
"Life is too short. I've got two kids now and I want my kids to grow up with their family and make good memories.
"My parents aren't getting any younger. I wish the Melbourne Storm were in Sydney but it's just not the case. This club will always hold a very special place in my heart.
"I played my 100th game a couple of weeks ago and my family were right in front of me and I couldn't give them a hug. I just can't wait to see them, especially my mum."
Enjoying every moment of the build-up to the grand final at ANZ Stadium next Sunday is high on Addo-Carr's agenda, and he will embrace the atmosphere with his head held high.
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"It's a special thing, you work so hard in the pre-season to get to this point. We've got one more job to do," he said.
"Everyone knows what I want to do. I just want to enjoy every minute. I'm super proud to be a part of this club, my name is going to be on the wall with all of the greats. Nobody can take that away from me.
"It's one of those things you have to enjoy. All the greats say that when you make it to a grand final, you have to enjoy the week and prepare the best you can. We've got good people right across the board and I just love it."
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Addo-Carr "freaked out" when he suffered a knock to his leg against the Raiders. For a moment it looked serious but he said he was "all good" to play on Sunday as a more complete player than he has ever been.
"I just feel like I've grown as a player mentally. Thinking under fatigue, trusting your teammates, understanding the game plan the coaches have set for you," he said.
"I feel like I've really grown in those areas and know what I have to do for the team. I just have to try and bring energy to the team, not just through the games but during the week.
"I'm a winger, so all I have to do is just catch the ball and run fast."