It was a miracle that I played: Perrett
The Bulldogs' 28-12 loss to Penrith on Sunday not only ended the club's 2016 campaign; it also brought an end to the storied career of retiring winger Sam Perrett.
The three-time grand finalist has been a fan favourite throughout his career at the Roosters and Bulldogs, scoring 93 tries from 256 matches in the NRL.
His demeanour on and off the field made him one of the most cherished players amongst the rugby league fraternity, but as Perrett revealed to media after the game, it was a 'miracle' that he was afforded one last game at the ground he made his debut on in 2004.
The 31-year-old missed Canterbury's last three regular season matches with a neck injury and was not originally named by coach Des Hasler for the elimination final against the Panthers.
But with Will Hopoate already missing on religious grounds, and with Perrett at risk of missing a send-off game if the Bulldogs lost, the veteran winger visited the specialist one last time to see if he could gain clearance to play.
"That was made with a last-ditch effort seeing the specialist," he revealed.
"Everything was going really well and it looked like it was recovering a lot more quickly than expected so we went and saw him just to make sure everything was right on track.
"He was really happy with it so we were all really surprised. It felt good, that's why we went and did it. It was a miracle that I was able to get out there. I was very happy."
Perrett didn't get the result he wanted, however, ending any hopes of a fairy tale fourth grand final in his final season in the NRL.
While the Bulldogs controlled the match for the first 35 minutes, the Panthers stormed home from then to pile on five unanswered tries before Perrett added one last memory to his highlight reel with a try two minutes from full-time.
"We knew the game was gone so that was a nice cherry on top [in my last game]," he said.
"Josh Mansour scored down at the end and I got pretty emotional because I knew it was over. There was no chance we could come back from that.
"I was a bit upset thinking 'this was it' and pretty quickly I looked over at the boys and then all the good memories just started popping in my head.
"It put a little smile on my face and I just realised it was only reason to celebrate. There was no reason to be disappointed. That took over my mindset and my emotions. I was really happy from then."
His career might have come to an end in disappointing fashion, but Perrett was able to leave Allianz Stadium in rarefied air as the Bulldogs' most accurate goal kicker in club history after converting his own try.
That was his first goal in the NRL and saw him go past greats Hazem el Masri (81.97 per cent) and Daryl Halligan (79.31) to sit atop the honour board at Canterbury Leagues Club.
"Something else I'm very proud of is a 100 per cent conversion rate for my career, so I'm pretty happy about that. Fake it 'til you make it," he joked.
"Literally when Moses [Mbye] was walking back I said 'Moey, have you got any tips?' and he said 'just keep your head down bro'. If I looked good then I did a good job."