Melbourne great Ryan Hoffman’s hamstring may no longer be giving him pain but he’s hurting badly.
The Storm veteran was rated almost no chance of recovering from the injury in time to play finals, which was set to be his NRL career swansong.
Dedicating himself to his recovery the 34-year-old defied medical opinion and returned to play in the final round of the regular season.
But he missed selection for Melbourne’s NRL preliminary final win over Cronulla and with that line-up likely to be retained he’s now set to watch Sunday’s grand final showdown with the Sydney Roosters from the sidelines.
Hoffman, who has played 325 NRL games, including 265 with Melbourne, said it was a tough pill to swallow.
“It’s extremely hard but that’s rugby league,” he said.
“You can only have 17 on the footy field so I’m very disappointed but I can’t do much more than that.”
Described as the ultimate club man, Hoffman will put that disappointment aside to focus on helping the team win back-to-back titles.
Coincidentally, his replacement Joe Stimson was overlooked for the grand final last year having played most of the season.
“I’ve been professional for 16 years and I’m not going to stop being professional now,” Hoffman said.
“I still have a job to do and I’m very excited for the guys.
“They have given themselves a great opportunity and something that has become a bit of a norm for the Storm the last couple of years.”
Hoffman said that Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy wouldn’t be the long-term success if he didn’t make the hard decisions.
He said Bellamy was able to put emotion aside to do what was best for the team.
“He is the coach and he picks what he thinks is the best 17 to win the game, that’s his job,” Hoffman said.
“We as players accept his decision and we don’t have to be happy about it but we accept it because we know he is doing whatever he can do to do the best thing for the club.”