There could be no more fitting way for ruthless Bears front-rower Shane Wadwell to go out. Fifteen years after he made his first-grade debut as a 17-year-old at West Lions, the despair of four premiership losses to the Lions in five years has been replaced by the jubilation of six-straight premierships.
And put simply, in a team stacked with high-calibre country rugby league players, Wadwell was noticeably the best among them when North Tamworth won their sixth-straight premiership at Jack Woolaston Oval on Saturday, beating the Roosters 40-4.
The 32-year-old's desire for the ball verged on an addiction, his stamina pool seemingly bottomless - the personal reward the match of the match gong.
He was emotional when he spoke to the Leader post-match, confirming that it was indeed his last game. He and Bears centre Richard Clegg have played in the nine-straight grand finals Norths have appeared in.
Wadwell was supposed to retire at the end of the 2017 season. He said he defied his wife's wishes by playing in 2018, but he wanted to notch a decade at the club. That automatically activates life members at Norths. This was his and Clegg's 10th season.
Wadwell stated in April that 2019 would be his final season.
After the finale, he said: "I got the players' player [man of the match award], I'm still playing all right footy [but] I've got my wife and three kids to worry about now, and it's just time to go."
It's been a good career, hasn't it? "I'm pretty happy with it," he replied.
His debut year at Norths marked the beginning of the Bears' run of nine-straight grand finals.
They lost four finales to West Tamworth before beginning their golden reign, meaning Wadwell played in grand finals in each year he was at Norths. "We've won six years in a row," he said. "Our first one six years ago is a very special one to me.
"But every year we just push and push and we're hungry for it. It doesn't matter if we've won six in a row; we're hungry every year for it, and that's what keeps us going."
I got the players' player [man of the match award], I'm still playing all right footy [but] I've got my wife and three kids to worry about now, and it's just time to go.Shane Wadwell
The father of three described Norths as a "second home" to him. He said that a "couple of years back" he was made an offer to join another club. "But at the end of the day this is [the] Bear family, and you can't beat it."
He said he was "just proud of the boys". "Yeah, it is my last game ... I don't know what to say. I'm just happy. I don't understand how I got it [the man of the match honour], but I'll take it."