Dragons fullback Sam Bremner joked she needed to check every body part was still intact after her first NRLW game in 755 days, such is the rollercoaster journey she has ridden in recent years.
While St George Illawarra had an injury toll nearly as big as their margin of defeat against the Roosters at GIO Stadium on Saturday, Bremner wasn't on the list – which was a mini victory in itself.
The 28-year-old hadn't been sighted in the Telstra Women's Premiership since 2018 after being sidelined with a fractured toe during the inaugural season and giving birth to her son Reef last year.
After returning to the game in the NRL Nines in February, the 18-4 loss on Saturday was just the second NRLW game of her career.
"I actually didn't know what to do after the game," Bremner told NRL.com.
Match Highlights: Roosters v Dragons
"It felt weird getting through a game, I had to actually say to my husband is this what it feels like to finish uninjured, what next now?
"I think people assume I've played a lot of NRLW because I've been around and I haven't been completely missing but I still feel like a rookie.
"It was a little bizarre because we lost but I'd been waiting for the moment for two years. Obviously, a lot of work to do with the team but nice to finish the game healthy and prepare for next week."
Bremner said she noticed a distinct difference in competitiveness across the paddock in her return to the field with the addition of several rugby converts and rising talent coming through the ranks.
Among the competitors who are likely to challenge Bremner for future representative No.1 jerseys include Broncos fullback Tamika Upton, Roosters flyer Botille Vette-Welsh and utility Corban McGregor.
"Certainly from just being out of the game and coming back in the competitiveness has ramped up," she said.
"There's no such thing as me putting my feet up when I was out of the game because of the young girls coming in or from different codes.
"It presents an opportunity for everyone now so you can't relax, you need to try and be better than your opposition on everything.
"I think that's why we're starting to get good, consistent, rugby league players because there's so much pressure around and you've got to thrive on it or you don't make it."
The Dragons remain hopeful key quartet Kezie Apps (head knock), Jessica Sergis (ankle), Maddie Studdon (ankle) and Shakiah Tungai (shoulder) will be available for the must-win grand final rematch with the Broncos on Saturday.
However, another loss will put the heavily-fancied side under immense pressure to reach the 2020 decider in a fortnight with points differential expected to come into play.
"Unfortunately, it's just something we've done in the past and even in the Nines, we come out a little frantic and I think we know the potential so well that we try to overplay our hand a little bit," Bremner said.
"We just need to practise our patience. It's a 60-minute game and we need to build to the end instead of worrying about scoring tries every play.
"The girls were in this exact position last year where it turned into sudden-death footy and we got it done so we're confident of doing the same.
"I know we can get better."