Tyrell Fuimaono was pleased to see Ryan Papenhuyzen return from concussion after copping a torrent of online abuse for his high tackle on the Melbourne fullback in Magic Round.
The Dragons forward was sent off in round 10 at Suncorp Stadium for accidentally clocking Papenhuyzen in the head after he passed the ball, leading the Storm star to be stretchered off the field.
Papenhuyzen has detailed his struggles following the hit as he suffered from intense headaches, neck issues and irritability. He made his comeback via the bench in Friday's 20-16 win over the Cowboys.
And while it was a difficult nine weeks in the casualty ward for Papenhuyzen, Fuimaono also had to deal with the harsh fallout from the incident, for which he received a five-match ban.
"It was unfortunate for him," Fuimaono said on Monday.
Episode 22 - RTS retires early, Kikau previews GF rematch
"I apologised to him after the game. It wasn't deliberate at all. If you look back, I obviously made contact with his head, but at the same time, I paid the penalty for it being on the sideline for a long time.
"I'm glad he's back playing footy - no one wants to see that happen. In terms of my own circumstances, I've paid the price for it. I [saw] him after the game and said, 'I'm sorry, it was unintentional'."
But a lengthy suspension wasn't the only price paid by Fuimaono.
Fuimaono sent off for high shot Papenhuyzen
"There was a bit of scrutiny and a lot of unhappy Melbourne fans giving me their two cents. That's the game and, unfortunately, we have people like that that feel they're obligated to go and put their two cents in, whether it's called for or not," the back-rower said.
"I tried to just block that out. Given the social platform that people have, there are no restrictions on what they get to say.
"They can say whatever they want from the safety of their home … There's no kickback to them. So that's one thing you have to deal with.
"And for me personally, [I was] just trying to be physically ready because it ended up being six weeks - with the bye - on the sideline [without] playing footy. It can take a bit of a toll on the body."
Sunday's 32-10 loss to the Titans was Fuimaono's second match since Magic Round. St George Illawarra are clinging to eighth and have a tough run home, including the Rabbitohs this Saturday.
"It was a disappointing performance on our behalf," said Fuimaono, who played 52 minutes off the interchange.
"It was a pretty important game in regards to our positioning on the ladder. There were a few things that went wrong. They turned up hungrier and played a lot better than what we did."
Every try from Round 19
St George Illawarra are unlikely to have Jamayne Taunoa-Brown this Saturday with the prop set to be recalled by the Warriors as per the terms of a short-term contract arrangement following two matches.
Winger Jordan Pereira labelled the round-19 defeat "devastating" because "you never know when my last Dragons game is going to be".
Pereira, who has played just four matches this year, confirmed he will join the Broncos on a two-year deal from 2022.
The 28-year-old was keen to stay at St George Illawarra, where he debuted in 2018, but wasn't offered a new contract.
Get Caught Up: Round 19 must-see moments
"When that door closed and it was time to look around, the opportunity elsewhere popped up," Pereira said.
"I felt that was the best move for myself personally and my family. I've got a six-month-old son and my wife who are over on the Gold Coast in quarantine.
"They're from Queensland and I'm very close to their family, so just having some support around my family and my son is going to be massive for us going forward.
"Football-wise, I think change will be really good for myself, giving me an opportunity to learn from new coaches. [Brisbane] is an outstanding club, so it's a good opportunity for me.
"Super sad to leave the relationships I've built here but that's just what happens when you're a football player, I guess."