Zero Tackle continues its countdown to the 2023 NRL grand final today with a look back to 2014, and one of the more heroic efforts in history of the decider.

In what was South Sydney's first grand final since 1971, the proud club already appeared to have the deck stacked against them with Isaac Luke ruled out through a suspension for a dangerous throw on Sonny Bill Williams in the preliminary final.

And when the opening tackle of the match saw a collision with James Graham that left inspirational enforcer Sam Burgess with a facial injury, it appeared the Bulldogs would play as favourites.

But what followed was truly something that had to be seen to be believed.

Instead of coming from the field with what turned out to be a fractured cheekbone and eye socket, the most experienced of the Burgess brothers at that time stayed on the field and played the entire game with his busted face.

Playing 80 minutes of rugby league - especially in the biggest game of the year - is nothing new. But doing it with a completely broken cheek and eye socket?

That was unheard of.

Not only did the lock forward play through the pain, but he excelled through the pain.

In what turned into a party for the Redfern-based club, South Sydney would go on to win the game 30 points to 6 on the back of Burgess, who was rightly awarded the Clive Churchill Medal for his 218 metres and 39 tackles with only a single miss.

You could only imagine the excruciating nature of the pain, but there have been few grand final performances like it.

The only one in recent times at least that comes to mind is that of Cooper Cronk for the Sydney Roosters in a 2018 win over the Melbourne Storm, when he played with a broken shoulder, although barely touched the ball or made a tackle.

What Burgess did that night in 2014 to break a more than 40-year curse was something incredibly special.

But it wasn't just Burgess who made the game for South Sydney.

In what was a tight first half, the only try saw Alex Johnston cross over, and while the conversion was missed, a penalty goal ensured the Rabbitohs would go into the break up 6-0 over their Sydney rivals.

The lead meant little though when Tony Williams - the man they called T-Rex - barged over for a try early in the second half to tie the game up with half an hour to play.

From there though, it was one-way traffic as the Rabbitohs put the pedal to the floor.

George Burgess would be next to score, and it was ultimately a weight of possession that would catch up with the Bulldogs during the second half following an Adam Reynolds penalty goal 17 minutes from fulltime that made the lead eight.

All of Kirisome Auva'a, Adam Reynolds and Greg Inglis would cross for tries in the final ten minutes of the game to blow the scoreline out and ensure South Sydney lifted the Provan-Summons trophy.

The party in the stands and at Redfern that followed was something else, and while the Rabbitohs haven't managed to win a competition since despite a period of sustained success over the last five years, that night in 2014 will live long in the memory of supporters.