By Jack Brady (NRL.com)
Premiership-winning Illawarra Cutters skipper Tyrone McCarthy made it through the final two games of the Intrust Super Premiership season with a torn quadriceps.
McCarthy suffered the injury in the warm up of the Cutters' 18-10 preliminary final win over the Newtown Jets but refused to sit the game out.
The 28-year-old's hopes of featuring in the Dragons' feeder club's eventual 21-20 grand final win over minor premiers Mounties looked done and dusted earlier in the week – making the fact he held the NSW Cup above his head on Sunday night even more remarkable.
"I wanted to help get the boys through to the grand final and luckily the medical team did everything they could to get me on the pitch," McCarthy told NRL.com.
"You never take any premiership win for granted because you never know when the next one will come around.
"It's extra special for me to come to the Dragons to play in the NRL and achieve that goal – while it wasn't as much as I would've liked – this is the next best thing I could've done."
McCarthy only featured twice for the Dragons this year meaning his goals for the 2017 Telstra Premiership season won't differ.
"My goal remains to push my way into the NRL side," he said.
"I've had a rough year with little niggly injuries so hopefully I can get on top of them next year and give Mary (coach Paul McGregor) something to think about."
The Irish international's immediate focus remains the NRL State Championship clash against Intrust Super Cup champions the Burleigh Bears next weekend.
McCarthy could hardly walk after the game and will require another long week with the Dragons' medical staff to ensure his place in the fixture.
If ruled fit, it will be the second time in three years he's played for the State Championship after winning it with the Northern Pride in 2014 under now Cutters coach Jason Demetriou.
McCarthy believes it's no coincidence that success has followed Demetriou in recent years, considering too he was an assistant coach at the Cowboys last year.
"I can't really give him a big enough rap really. His reputation and form goes without saying now. He's been successful with wherever he's gone," McCarthy said.
"Even in England when he coached Keighley he gets the best out of people and I think that shows with the lads who come down from the NRL side to play for the Cutters.
"Obviously there are some great players there who probably deserve an NRL opportunity but what Jason is good at is getting them motivated to play for Illawarra.
"He sets out to help them switch off from the NRL and find their motivation to do their best [in reserve grade]."