Jordan McLean has gone through more than most to get to this point.
Stories have run thick and fast this grand final week on the blood, sweat and tears both Melbourne and Cronulla players have endured to arrive on that special first Sunday in October.
But for McLean, the road has been just a little bit bumpier than the rest.
It was over two years ago when the Storm prop fled to his family home in country NSW in the aftermath of the tackle that left former Newcastle player Alex McKinnon in a wheelchair.
McLean was eventually handed a seven-game ban, but the effects of having to deal with the magnitude of his role in the incident lasted even longer.
While the immediate concerns were – and continue to be – for the welfare of McKinnon, prop Jesse Bromwich recalled how difficult a period it was for his young teammate.
“I remember it being really tough for him,” Bromwich told AAP.
“I remember him taking off to his family house in the country NSW there. He got away for a couple of weeks and when he come back, we all tried and put it behind us.
“But he found it hard because he was left on his own. At the same time though, he took it like a man and copped the punishment.”
Bromwich was confident McLean, then 22, would eventually return to the game. But he also remembered how hard it was for the playing group to reach out to him at the time.
“I knew he was going to come back. But when he was away, it was hard,” he said.
“You couldn’t just ask him if he was alright in person. You had to get on the phone and do that. He dealt with it the way he felt that was best, and good on him.”
McLean has since established himself as a crucial cog in the Storm pack, and also earned his first representative jumper when he was selected for the NSW Country team this year.
His 20 games this year, which includes overcoming an ankle injury late in the year, is the most in his four-year career, earning interest from rival clubs such as North Queensland.
On Sunday, he completes a windy road back to the top.
“He’s come through the other side,” Bromwich said.
“But look – what happened to him and Alex wasn’t ideal. Youv’e got to feel for Alex and what happened to him. You wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
“Macca come through that a more mature man. He went into that as kid and he come out as a young man. He’s an honest, hard-working fella and he’s a real country kid. He’s a good guy.”