Roosters co-captain Jake Friend had to keep his grand final inclusion a secret from a number of people, including his mum, girlfriend and close mates.
He knew he would make the final team after getting through Friday’s training session, and admits he felt bad not telling his inner circle.
He also said it was it tough coming in at the expense of teammates like Zane Tetevano and Lindsay Collins.
“I didn’t tell mum, didn’t tell the missus,” Friend told NRL Media after the Roosters’ premiership win.
“Had mates messaging me. I brushed everyone … Trent didn’t tell Nick so if Nick doesn’t know I can’t tell anyone!
“I didn’t write back to a lot of people but I had plenty of well-wishers and I’ll spend the next – maybe not [Monday] but a few days after – getting back to everyone that wished me luck.
“There were plenty of questions but I brushed them all.”
The 29-year old nearly returned for his side’s preliminary final win over the Storm but said the risk was too great in such a big game.
“We were pretty close last week but Trent and I had a chat and decided that the game was too big to risk a sub or being an injury,” he added.
“We went that way, I did what I had to do this week. I’m stoked to have the spot in the team but I feel for guys like Lindsay and Zano who I’ve watched from the sidelines through injury bust their backsides for this team.
“They’re the reason we’re here. I came in and had to play my part but some guys missed out. I definitely feel for them. I’ll get to them this week and buy them a couple of beers and I’m sure we’ll have a good chat.”
It was a tough season for Friend despite ending in the ultimate prize, playing just six games mainly due to injury.
“It’s been a bit different to last [season]. I’m really thankful to be able to play my little part in the last game,” he said.
“Disappointing year with injury for me, obviously I wanted to play more footy but I thought the footy I played, I was happy with the games I had but I just couldn’t get any rhythm with injury and Sammy [Verrills] stepped up.
“I’m looking forward to a break. Rehab’s worse than training, you just get flogged all week. It got me through that 30 minutes [in the grand final]. I’m stoked to be able to play tonight and be a part of a pretty special group and an awesome club and a pretty special part of Roosters and NRL history.”
The veteran had plenty of praise for emerging hooker Verrills, who stepped up amongst the team’s injuries to help get them into the decider.
“Sammy, to come in the young kid, he was with Norths at the start of the year and Rads [Victor Radley] did his part but then Sammy stepped in,” Friend said.
“He’s only got better as the year went on. The first try [of the grand final], it was pretty cool to see him get that. He’s worked hard, everyone loves him at the club, he’s a good kid.
“I’m sure this won’t be his last grand final, he’s a pretty special player and I’m sure he’ll be around this club for a long time. I’m happy if me and Sammy can share the role there [moving forward].”