He’s the good news story of Melbourne’s charge to the NRL grand final and spent years on the sidelines after a cruel string of injuries threatened his career.
But his name isn’t Billy Slater.
When Slade Griffin runs onto ANZ Stadium for Sunday’s season decider against North Queensland, the experience will be a little bit sweeter for the bench utility after a horror four-year stretch in which he tore his ACL three times.
At one point, the 26-year-old went 1056 days between NRL appearances and feared he was going to be cut by the club.
In a remarkable show of faith, they stuck by him and he stands on the cusp of earning a premiership ring which at one point seemed a far-off fantasy.
“It’s kind of hard going through that again and again,” Griffin said.
“You finally get back to footy, I got to do the whole pre-season, and they were unlucky contact injuries, so I was confident I would always come back from them.
“They were pretty freaky accidents. I just got caught in weird situations.”
Griffin’s torrid journey began in 2012 when he did the ACL in his right knee.
He returned and made his NRL debut in 2013, only to injure the ACL in his left knee.
He again worked his way back to full fitness before suffering the same injury on the same knee again.
Griffin went nearly three years between first-grade appearances before returning against St George Illawarra during the State of Origin period last season.
This year, with a fresh start and a clean bill of health, he has established himself as a regular on the Storm bench.
He is off-contract at the end of the season but is buoyant about the likelihood of staying at Melbourne, which he refers to as his second home.
During the depth of his horrid run of injuries, he was afraid the Storm were going to cut their losses and tell him to look elsewhere.
Griffin admits he was afraid the Storm would cut their losses, but after they stuck with him he is ready to repay the faith.
“The first one I was nearly crying in the sheds because I watch a lot of NFL and their sport is ruthless,” he said.
“If you can’t play (because of a serious injury), that’s generally your career.
“I was worried that was the end of my career before it even got started. But the Storm gave me a lifeline and that’s why they’re so great.”