Cessnock evergreen warrior Brendan Hlad is hoping for a fairy tale end to his outstanding career.
The prop has been busting lines, scoring tries and even leaving the opposition clutching at straws with a giant step in a rich vein of form but this is definitely the last campaign and Sunday's grand final against Western Suburbs his last game.
"I'm enjoying footy and I can see the finish line so I want to make every post a winner," Hlad said.
"This year I've really worked hard and I'm getting the results from it. The knees are hanging in there, but physically and mentally I just can't do it again.
"I've got a beautiful wife [Cassey] and three great kids [boys aged three, six and 11] and they deserve my time more than a game of footy.
"They've followed me around for a long time so they deserve my time. I love them more than football."
Cessnock born and bred Hlad has played in four losing grand finals for the Goannas since returning to Australia from a season with the Castleford Tigers a decade ago.
"I haven't won a premiership since I was 20 years old at Penrith, when we won the Under-20s comp there. I also won one as a junior at the Knights but never a top grade one, I've lost them all.
"In 2009 it was against Wyong, 2010 against Maitland and 2012 and 2014 both against Wests.
"It would be fairy tale ending to finally win one.
"We'll just see how we go. That's been out attitude since we started the semi-finals, 'we'll just have a crack'.
"There's been no pressure, no expectations, we've just been giving our best."
Hlad was full of praise for skipper Steve Waetford's leadership and the enthusiasm of the Goannas younger players in the Goannas late season surge.
"Steve Waetford makes a massive difference. He is the best captain I think I have ever played under. He knows what to say at the right time and he leads by example.
"I can't give the younger blokes a big enough wrap. You look at Sam Apthorpe, Nic Lawrence, Connor Kirkwood just to name a few they are playing out of their skin every week."
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