Liu, Napa out to ease 2013 GF heartbreak

Agonisingly close to playing in the 2013 NRL grand final, the fire burns bright for Dylan Napa and Isaac Liu to run out on the first Sunday in October.

The Sydney Roosters’ hardmen were the hard luck story of the Tricolours’ premiership triumph four years ago when they were named in Trent Robinson’s side during the week only to replaced an hour before kick off.

Going into the season decider against Manly, both Luke O’Donnell and Boyd Cordner were touch-and-go and given until the 11th hour to prove their fitness.

O’Donnell, who retired after the 2013 season, had suffered a hamstring injury and missed the previous week’s preliminary final win over Newcastle while Cordner hadn’t played since round 22 because of a broken ankle.

So Napa and Liu were named as contingencies and warmed up on ANZ Stadium, only to spend the game on the sidelines.

While Napa was reluctant to talk of a possible grand final berth, given the Roosters still have to beat a gutsy North Queensland in their preliminary final on Saturday, he said it was a formative moment in his career.

At the time he was a 20-year-old rookie with seven first grade games under his belt and didn’t fully comprehend what the team accomplished that year.

“I wouldn’t say I took it for granted, but I didn’t know the magnitude of a grand final,” Napa told AAP.

“Just how hard it is to get there until, as a team, what we went through last year.

“I definitely appreciate it now, how hard it is to get to this spot. I just want to do everything for my teammates.”

Like Napa, Liu was a fresh-faced rookie that year and it served as a learning experience for the rest of his career.

“I want it really bad. You get really hungry for it,” said Liu, when asked about the possibility of playing in a grand final.

“We warmed up and we were on standby. We were waiting to see if we were going to play. It didn’t happen but to experience it was amazing.”

Liu is at lengths to point out there are no hard feelings about being overlooked for stars Cordner and O’Donnell, but he admitted there was a big part of him that wanted to run on that day.

“You’re a part of it, even though I didn’t get on the ground, which is a bit disappointing in the back of your head,” Liu said.

“It was awesome. I enjoyed the whole thing.

“But I had that disappointment in the background, I was saying ‘I wish I could have got on the field to play with the boys’. But other than that I was happy.”

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