Out of the 34 players at WIN Stadium on Saturday night none were more deserving to be out there than Slade Griffin.
After enduring three knee reconstructions in four years the resilient 25-year-old made his return to the NRL return on the weekend, 1,056 days since his last appearance.
Griffin admits the past few years had tested him both physically and mentally but the chance to pull on the purple jersey again made all the hard work worth it.
“It was amazing to just get back out and play with the boys, I’ve been thinking about this game now for about two years, to just pull this purple shirt on again, but it was just disappointing to get the loss,” Griffin said.
“We’ve got a pretty good job, we get to play footy and injuries come with that and I guess what Craig preaches here is mental toughness.
“There were some dark days but I had good support with my family, friends and the team.”
Griffin had 33 tackles from 45 minutes in his comeback game.
The Storm playing group and coaching staff are well aware of the challenges their teammate has had to face in recent years.
Craig Bellamy has seen first hand what Griffin has endured to get back out on the field.
“The one thing about Slade, it’s quite emotional, he went through tough periods but the kid has just got a great work ethic and that’s why he came back,” Bellamy said.
“He was very solid tonight and he was playing really good for our feeder team so it’s a big occasion for him.
“At some stage he would of thought ‘is this worth it’ but as I’ve said what has got him through is his work ethic and to be able to put everything out of his mind when it’s time to train or time for his rehab and just get stuck right into it.
“He obviously would of had some dark days when you’re in the gym or on your own and training on your own and it’s quite painful but he just seems to be one of those kids that is real tough and hopefully he can kick-off from here and have a bit more luck with injuries in the future.”