It did little to soothe the pain of grand final defeat, but newly minted Michael Cronin Medalist James Ralphs says a quick chat with his old man put claiming Group Seven's highest individual honour in perspective.
The Shellharbour skipper was an utterly unsurprising recipient of the competition's player of the year gong after leading what had been an underachieving club to within a whisker of league supremacy.
In the end the Sharks fell agonisingly short of their first title since 2018, a late try to Gerringong snatching a 12-10 win.
While his first thought was that he'd give the medal back to have heard the siren blow three minutes earlier that day with the Sharks leading 10-6, some sage advice from his father let him appreciate the individual recognition.
"It didn't really hit home how important it was until had a conversation with my old man about it," Ralphs said.
"He played in Group Seven in the 80s with some superstar footballers and he said 'not one of them won that medal'. When I thought about it like that, only one person can win it a year out of how many blokes that are playing, it's pretty special.
"I think in round 10 I was only coming sixth [in voting]. It went behind closed doors and I was just in front by one, but towards back in the year I was carrying a couple of injuries and the fitness wasn't up there.
"I was struggling a bit and I was more worried about us continuing that run of 11 wins and getting ready for the finals so it's not something I really thought about.
"When they put up the round 14 results I was in front by a little bit you get the butterflies in your stomach. It doesn't make up for [grand final defeat], but it is a nice personal accolade to get."
It was a well-deserved gong, but Ralphs said the greatest sense of pride came in restoring pride in a club that hadn't tasted finals action since before COVID.
"Shellharbour's always been that perennial finals team, it's very rare the club doesn't play in the finals," Ralphs said.
"We had a really good preseason, we won the knockout and didn't concede a point. We came out in round one and we rolled the premiers (Warilla), then we sort of dropped two-three games during that early stretch.
"We got together as a group and said it wasn't good enough. It wasn't just Abed and I, guys like Starlo (Josh Starling) and Manny Sultana really drove that, to put pride back in the jersey and respect back on the name.
"I think with that run where we beat every team 11 weeks in a row, we put a bit of respect back on the name and I'm just lucky. You don't win that type of [individual] award without the team, so it's more of a team thing than an individual thing to me."
"Back at the pub after it the game the first thing everyone started saying was 'we're going again next year'," Ralphs said.
"In the day's following the grand final I was on the phone with Abed talking about it. We might be maybe minus one or two, but I think we're going to be pretty much the same team.
"The boys were disappointed, distraught, as you would be after losing a game like that but everyone's turned that hurt into motivation. Sometimes they say you've got to lose one to win one and we're going to be ready to roll.
"Hopefully we're consistent all year and there at the end again."
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