If anyone deserves the fairytale finish it’s Melbourne winger Matt Duffie.
The 25-year-old will play his last NRL game at AAMI Park in the Storm’s preliminary final against North Queensland on Saturday night after signing to play Super Rugby with Auckland next year.
Duffie made his NRL debut back in 2010 but his career stalled following multiple shoulder and knee reconstructions.
Returning in round 20 after being sidelined for 847 days, Duffie said there were times he thought he’d never play again.
He has scored four tries since and formed a threatening combination with centre Will Chambers.
“At one stage I thought I was no chance of even playing again so it’s a bonus that I’m getting to play a prelim at home,” Duffie said.
“The last prelim I played was in 2011 and we lost that so I will be looking to finish on a high.”
The Storm, who stood by Duffie during his long rehabilitation, hoped to keep the aerial specialist on their books.
But Duffie said his injury experience had taught him that life as a football player in any code was short.
He said he had spoken to Storm fullback Billy Slater, who has his own disappointment in missing their finals campaign following shoulder surgery.
“When I told him I was moving on he said, `Everything’s a bonus’ and it is true,” Duffie said.
“Everything from here on in is a bonus and I really do appreciate everything in life and football now after going through those two years.
“Everyday when I roll up for training I’m grateful.”
Duffie played rugby as a school boy in New Zealand and has been lured back by former All Blacks great Tana Umaga, who is the new Blues coach.
The Blues have him earmarked as a fullback, a position where the Storm have a wealth of talent in Slater and Cameron Munster.
“The thing I realised with the Blues is that it’s a great opportunity to further my career in a key position rather than just playing on the wing,” Duffie said.
“That was an exciting part of it and with Tana, who has a bit of league background from his younger days, I felt really comfortable with making the transition.”