WHEN it comes to grand final moments, Dragons great Dean Young owns two of the most memorable - certainly in St George Illawarra's history.
There was the kissing of the badge after scoring the match-sealing try, the one that cast off a 30-year hoodoo, and the emotional celebration with father Craig - the skipper the last time the game's most famous club tasted premiership success.
Grand final victories inevitably create history - this was both a 16th premiership for the red v, and the first for a joint-venture - but those moments were about casting off the weight of it.
In 2010, the Dragons carried the burden of expectation born of a glorious, yet distant, past and the added weight of more recent near-misses. Then, of course, there was the question of whether the joint-venture could unify a fan-base not bitterly divided, but still like competitive brothers living under same roof.
St George brought the brand, the most iconic in the game, 11 straight premierships and all. The Steelers, battlers in a league heartland, brought a junior nursery among the richest in the game.
I many ways Young was the poster child for the merged entity, a ball boy during his father's Hall of Fame career in the red v and - as a Dapto junior - one of several Illawarra products that formed the core of the club through its first decade.
There were none more talented than the 2005 crop, a side that notched 16 wins, the last eight in row en route to a prelim final. It put them on course for a breakthrough title, but also in the path of the Wests Tigers fairy tale.
That defeat, even with the redemption that followed, it still eats at Young today.
"That was the biggest missed opportunity, that was the most talented side I've been a part of," he says.
"The Tigers definitely came out of the blue, they were sitting low [on the ladder] and they went on that run. We just didn't save our best for last in that game and couldn't get it done."
They couldn't get it done a year later either, touching up Brisbane (20-4) and Manly (28-0) on the way to another prelim where they fell to Melbourne - the Storm ironically losing to the Broncos in the decider a week later.
It was a one-two punch that took some time to recover from, with the Dragons slumping to a 13th placed finish in 2007, one Young missed almost entirely with a career-threatening injury.
They finished 7th a year later and went out of the finals with a whimper in what spelled the end of Nathan Brown's coaching career and saw the arrival of mastercoach Wayne Bennett. Here was a man, they said, who could get the club over that hump.
"To have a new coach at any organisation is always a bit of a change but Wayne certainly did have that aura," Young recalls.
"We obviously fell short a couple of times in 05 and 06 so, when Wayne walked in he had a group of guys willing to do anything to win a grand final.
"He had buy-in from the whole group, whatever he said we went with. It was a smooth transition and we hit the ground running."
That they did, sitting atop the ladder for 12 of the final 13 weeks on the way to the minor premiership. To call then going out of the finals in straight sets underwhelming is an understatement.
Young knew enough to know what was coming next.
"We knew you blokes [media] would hop into us again because that's just what happens at this club," he said.
"I always say to new players who come to the club, if you're not happy with criticism it's probably not the club for you. It's set up that way, it's part of putting on the big red v, you've got to expect that.
"We've won 11 premierships in a row and there's expectations. Our fans expect us to win and it's not wrong of them to expect that. When you don't you do cop a bit of a caning."
It could easily have brought a sense of deja vu but, in another testament to the Bennett genius, Young says the coach nipped that in the bud before they'd left the sheds after a 24-10 loss to the Broncos in week to of the post-season.
"After that game where we went out in straight sets, I remember to this day, Wayne just said 'boys, we're not changing a single thing," Young recalls.
"If you change things from year to year all the time players are thinking 'well what does the coach believe in?' This organisation probably lacked a bit of belief given we'd fallen short a few times but that showed us that Wayne had belief in us.
"I look back and that was one of the really big things, we're not changing things we've just got to keep doing what we're doing but better."
The NRL didn't need to come to collect the JJ Giltinan Shield from the trophy cabinet, but it wasn't a prize they were at all interested in.
What happened next is history but, even knowing what he does now, Young says a redemptive 13-12 prelim final win over the Tigers was the most vindicating - especially for the veterans.
"Definitely, that grand final qualifier against the Tigers was our grand final. We had to get over that hump," he said. but
"Our group of core guys had been there for a long period of time but we had some fresh faces like Jeremy Smith, Nathan Fien and Neville Costigan.
"The young Matty Prior's and Brett Morris' and Jason Nightingale's hadn't gone through what we'd been through so they probably weren't as scarred or as hurt by the past.
"The Tigers were a quality side and we felt like once we won that game we were really confident going in against the Roosters and we really enjoyed grand final week.
"As Wayne definitely makes his team feel confident and comfortable in those big games because more often than not he's won them. He knows how to get it done and he gives you confidence."
It was far from misplaced, in fact it was almost surreal to see how easy they made it look in cruising to a 32-8 win; at least that's how most remember it. Young has a slightly different recollection.
"People forget we were down at halftime against the Tigers and we were down at halftime against the Roosters," he recalls.
"It's one of those things, when you've been in that moment and fallen short a couple of times you're not thinking about celebrating or anything like that.
"You're zoned in until the final siren blew and playing each play and not worrying about the clock. Our team for that three-year period was really good at that.
"We were down but we still managed to find a way to win because we just showed belief in our systems and it got us home in the end."
Redemption was sweet, all the more so given it was only his famed toughness and dedication that got him there at all after that 2006 knee surgery - and ensuing staph infection - looked like it might end his career.
It kept him off the training paddock for the six years he still punched out amid the pain, with many, including Bennett, calling it a constant source of inspiration for his side.
"I certainly thought [it could be over] in 2006 when I did my knee and then I probably came back to early in 2007 and only played the three games," he said.
"From then on I played over 20 games every year for the rest of my career and that's only because of the wonderful coaches and performance staff I had; Nathan Brown, Wayne Bennett, Steve Price, Andrew Gray, Jeremy Hickmans... they all showed a lot of faith in me because I could never do the running all the other guys did.
"The boys were great about that. They definitely could have made me feel like I wasn't paying the same price as they were because they were training all the time but they never once made me feel that way.
"They knew how professional I was and what type of person I was and that I was paying a price in a different way and I was never going to let them down on the field.
"If they hadn't done that I would've been retired a long time ago and probably wouldn't have got the chance to win a premiership."
That journey was at the heart of the moment he shared with his Dad in the immediate aftermath, a spontaneous moment born of years of struggle and sacrifice.
"Yeah it was a special moment," he recalls.
"For him to see what I went through with my knee and everything else and finally realise my dream... it certainly wasn't planned, it was just one of those things where everyone was celebrating and we found ourselves next to each other.
"It was a nice moment, not just for Dad, but for my whole family. They knew how much I put into that career and played a big part in getting me there that day.
"We had a special group of players. I don't think it was anywhere near as talented as our 2005 side but it was just a group of blokes who had the one goal of winning a grand final and didn't care about anything else.
"We all paid the price together and we all got to celebrate together."