Luke Keary insists he's ready to stand up and guide the Sydney Roosters to an NRL premiership over Melbourne if superstar halfback Cooper Cronk is ruled out of next Sunday's grand final.
Cronk is fighting an uphill battle to be fit for next week's decider against his old club, after scans on Sunday revealed a severe injury to the rotator cuff in his left shoulder.
The Roosters will give their star signing every chance to play and could wait until just before kickoff to make a decision, after he got through the second half of their win over South Sydney on Saturday night with his left arm almost exclusively hanging by his side.
With Cronk lying dormant Keary was tremendous in attack, kicking more metres and having his second most touches of any games this year.
And if Cronk is to miss next Sunday's decider against the Storm at ANZ Stadium, Keary says he's experienced enough to step up and lead the charge.
"I think over four or five years now of playing, I feel confident in myself I can do that in big occasions," he said.
"If I couldn't do that, then I'm not really doing my job they brought me here to do.
"I'm confident in myself I will be able to do that if it needs to be done."
Cronk is the only availability concern for the Roosters coming out of Saturday's grinding 12-4 win, with co-captain Jake Friend free to play in the decider once he takes an early guilty plea for a dangerous throw on Greg Inglis.
And while Cronk is gunning to become the first halfback to play in eight grand finals, Keary will turn out in his second after having won the title in 2014 with South Sydney as a 22-year-old in his second season of first grade.
Since then he has endured the drama of the infamous criticism at the Rabbitohs from Russell Crowe during a pre-season camp in 2016, before he was dropped back to the bench later that year.
And he admits he'll learn to appreciate this year's decider more.
"I was 15 or 20 (career NRL) footy games in on the first one, and you think you're going to make it every year," Keary said.
"Now I've gone through some tougher times and some good times. You realise how hard it is to make it to that game.
"You just appreciate being lucky enough to be in that week. But in saying that it means nothing if you don't come away with the win."
Australian Associated Press