His shoulder may need surgery but Nathan Cleary was feeling no pain as he collected the Clive Churchill Medal after Penrith outclassed South Sydney 14-12 in the NRL grand final.
In July, the playmaker's season looked in tatters as he suffered a shoulder injury while steering NSW to a State of Origin game two win that sealed a series win at Suncorp Stadium.
Three months later Cleary raised the premiership trophy at the same venue on Sunday night, capping a remarkable tale of resilience.
Clearly hardly missed a beat after his club's medical staff saved his season by opting for rehabilitation rather than immediate surgery.
He was in the thick of it in the grand final, orchestrating the Panthers with a calm head and sublime kicking game, forcing four line dropouts to keep the blowtorch on the Rabbitohs.
While off-season surgery almost certainly awaits, Cleary will savour the moment after Penrith overcame last year's grand final loss to Melbourne with their first title in 18 years.
Cleary's night only got better when his Clive Churchill Medal for man of the match was presented by his father and coach Ivan Cleary.
"It's not about us but it's special," he said of winning a title with his dad.
"A lot of people wrote us off but now to do it it's crazy.
"I have been dreaming of this moment since I was a little kid.
"I was so grateful to play one NRL game and then to win a grand final is crazy, to do it with dad and the people I've grown up with is special."
The Clearys entered a special club in Panthers history after coach John Lang and his son, prop Martin shared premiership glory the last time the club triumphed in 2003.
Ivan Cleary claimed the premiership in his 370th game as a coach, becoming the only man to win a title for the first time after their 250th game.
But he admits he could not have scripted a better finish than to hand his son the Clive Churchill Medal.
"That was completely out of this world," he said.
"I was standing there like, I couldn't have even written that story. I didn't know it was happening, I didn't know I had to do it.
I don't know how to explain it.
"That's my boy."
Australian Associated Press