"How good is this?"
Tof Sipley is being carted out of Magic Round with a season-ending knee injury and the famous green whistle in his mouth, the heavy-duty painkiller making for some serious sunshine and lollipops at Suncorp Stadium.
"How good is this?"
Sipley is trotting out onto the hallowed Brookvale Oval turf just over four months later, a new two-year Sea Eagles deal signed a day after his rugby league return was locked in, Des Hasler calling him in cold for what proves a famous Manly win.
He only plays 16 minutes, and is no certainty to stay in Hasler's 17 to take on Souths in Friday's sudden-death final at ANZ Stadium.
But after his knee went the wrong way back in May, Sipley could be forgiven for thinking the worst having already suffered a career-threatening ACL, MCL and PCL all in one during under 20s.
"If anyone's got a spare knee, I'm interested," Sipley can joke after coming back from a relatively rare knee injury in rugby league circles.
"Against Brisbane in round nine, my hammy tendon went, my popliteus was done.
"The fear was it was the ACL but it's my PLC – posterolateral corner it's called – it's at the back of the knee.
"I was lucky to save my meniscus, there's no damage to that, that's a big thing because it's basically the cushion in your knee, I was fortunate not to damage that.
"It's all a part of footy really those injuries. I've done my ACL in that knee and that was the last ligament I did that one, so now all four ligaments in that knee have been operated on."
Not that he was all that worried back in Magic Round.
Match: Rabbitohs v Sea Eagles
Finals Week 2 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
- Nine Network
- LIVE PASS
"Watch the replay man, I was on the green whistle, that's the first time I've had it," Sipley grins.
"I watched the replay, I was carrying on loving it. I was chucking a 'yewza' to the crowd, I was pretty spacey, it's pretty good pain relief I'll say that."
Having worked back from that first major knee injury at age 20, Sipley refused to cop the season-ending verdict when it first landed.
The former Junior Kiwis prop has worked diligently through his rehab and was duly rewarded when injuries rocked Manly's front-row stocks, with Marty Taupau's suspension putting him on the sidelines next to Morgan Boyle (arm) and Taniela Paseka (knee).
On Tuesday Hasler delivered the good news. Sipley had the all-clear from the medicos and the coach's blessing to return straight into an NRL final without a reserve grade hit-out.
On Wednesday Manly doubled down, sorting Sipley's future at the club until the end of 2021 with a new deal and faith in his ability to now keep himself on the paddock.
Match Highlights: Sea Eagles v Sharks
"The club's shown a bit of faith in me and it was good to get it signed and out of the way before going into the game, I'm grateful for the security," Sipley told NRL.com.
"The first time I did my knee when I was younger coming out of 20s, I broke down in tears. But this time around when I got told, I felt something different.
"I'm a religious man, I'm a Christian and I just give thanks for being able to get through this period. It's all part of life's journey. You work out your character and who you are as a character.
"I chose not to accept it was my season done, there was a little bit of hope when I met with the specialist. He said 4-6 months, so I was aiming for the lower end of it, that four months and thanks to our medical team we got me back there out and the boys got the win."