Roosters coach Trent Robinson was both disappointed and immensely proud after his team's courageous campaign came to an end at the hands of Manly.
It wasn't the fairytale finish retiring centre Josh Morris deserved for his glittering 325-game career, but Robinson believes the Roosters will grow after their 42-6 semi-final loss at BB Print Stadium.
Considering the Tricolours lost all-time greats Boyd Cordner, Jake Friend and Brett Morris to mid-year retirements and dealt with a shocking injury toll, it was a mammoth effort to go as far as they did.
"I just said to the guys in there [in the dressing sheds], it's obviously the craziest coaching year that I've had just in all," Robinson said.
"Just to retire absolute legends of the game, to see the injuries that we've had … every game was a new combination and a new task.
"But the attitude of the guys to go about that was just incredible. Every week was, 'righto, we can do this'.
"I just said to them we're a greater Roosters club than what we were at the start of 2021. They've done our club proud.
Josh Morris given guard of honour after final NRL game
"We're a stronger club because of the way that they've acted this year and the way that they've gone about it.
"I know that hurt tonight, but I know that we're a better team because of the way that we handled ourselves this season.
"I'm just incredibly proud of the staff and [regular] players and players that aren't playing and players that didn't think they were going to play and played 15 games.
"That's the overwhelming feeling: disappointment tonight, but absolute honour in the way that they've worn the jersey this year."
While Morris unfortunately bowed out on a losing note, the champion outside back maintained his high standards until the final whistle.
"There's a saying about filling 60 seconds with a distance run - about running every second of your minute," Robinson said.
"And he ran every second of that minute, right to the end. He filled a career of, I think it was round one or two in 2007, to 14 years later to finish with 300 games and Australia and NSW [appearances].
"He can rest now. He can feel really proud about the way that he played the game of rugby league."
Robinson isn't sure if Morris will remain involved with the club like his twin brother Brett but the 35-year-old is involved in the new Cattleman's Lager beer and finishing his building qualifications.
Morris wasn't the only Rooster farewelled on Friday night with long-time physio Travis Touma and soon-to-be Sharks head coach Craig Fitzgibbon also departing the club.
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Robinson bestowed the highest of praise on Fitzgibbon, who has learned the coaching caper as an assistant to the three-time premiership-winning mentor.
"Fitz is possibly the greatest-ever Rooster. What's somebody done more than Craig Fitzgibbon as far as a Rooster? Coached, played, captained – he's just been legendary," Robinson said.
He also paid tribute to the NRL for "looking after us" and keeping the competition afloat in Queensland.
"Thank you for caring for us during what could have been a really tough time," Robinson said.