Melbourne five-eighth Gareth Widdop says he would not have returned had he not been 100 per cent fit as he completed a remarkable comeback from a dislocated hip on Friday night.
Widdop was back on an NRL field less than three months after suffering the agonising injury in the round 15 loss to Gold Coast - the St George Illawarra-bound Englishman admitting he never gave up on playing for the Storm again.
It was initially believed a return for the end-of-season World Cup was only a remote possibility, but Widdop appeared to have full range of movement against the Rabbitohs.
"I always had a set goal because otherwise you've got nothing to come back for," Widdop said.
"I still knew the (NRL) season was a bit of a chance for the finals, but otherwise the World Cup was more realistic.
"I worked really hard to get back, it's good to be back playing."
Widdop proved his fitness playing for Easts Tigers in the Queensland Cup last weekend, and grabbed his chance at an NRL return thanks to a shoulder injury to Brett Finch.
"Finchy wasn't fit to play, I don't know whether he's going to be right next week either," coach Craig Bellamy said.
"It's a bit more serious than what they first thought.
"It wouldn't matter what sort of final it was he (Widdop) would have been playing because Brett wasn't fit to play."
The 80 minutes would no doubt have done Widdop the world of good, with the rustiness of his long layoff still evident with a couple of poor options in attack.
"He got involved with the footy, his tackling, he would have obviously made a few, they were heading a little bit towards him," Bellamy said.
"He worked really hard through his break on his fitness.
"It's really good to see him come through - obviously that hitout tonight will help him for next week as well."
Widdop said there was nothing holding him back on the field, which was evident in his workrate throughout the game.
"It's fine, back to normal. I wouldn't be playing otherwise," Widdop said.
"There's no point coming on and not doing your job and hiding out there.
"I tried to get my hands on the footy as much as I could."