80 minutes with suspected fractured cheek a thing of legend
CLIVE Churchill man of the match Sam Burgess admitted the legend of South Sydney John Sattler's 1970 grand final heroics plus the urgings of team-mates inspired him to play through the pain of a suspected fractured cheek and possible eye socket damage against a physical Bulldogs.
The Englishman's face looked like he'd gone 10 rounds with world heavyweight superstar Wladimir Klitschko after a full-blooded head clash with fellow English international James Graham in the very first tackle of South's drought-breaking 30-6 grand final victory in front of almost 84,000 fans at ANZ Stadium.
Sattler, who played on with his jaw smashed by a punch early in South's brutal 1970 grand final win over Manly, paid tribute to Burgess's courage as the pair celebrated the club's first premiership win since 1971.
A battered Burgess, blood seeping from his nose and mouth, had earlier broken down in tears on the field after team-mate Adam Reynolds scored in the 78th minute to ice an emotion-charge victory, sparking wild scenes among the red and green army packed into the former Olympic Stadium.
"The big fella was absolutely magnificent, he blew them out of the water," said a pleased Sattler.
"He (Burgess) doesn't look too bright at the moment with his eye the way it is but he played through it.
"His performance tonight and all through the season has just been one of enormous magnitude, he is what South Sydney is all about. When they write to book, Sam's name will be mentioned in it."
Burgess acknowledge the team drew inspiration from Sattler's feats of courage more than four decades ago.
"We draw a lot of inspiration from John and especially the team he played with back then and I'm really proud of the whole team, not just the 17 who played tonight but the whole 30 players and staff.
"My face is a bit of a mess but I'll take it for the win. I am really thankful and honoured to be a part of this .
"It's something that can never be taken away from me and something I will never forget.
"It's something I will hold in my heart forever."
Souths led 6-0 at half time before the Bulldogs scored first in the second half through Tony Williams to lock up the scores.
The final 24 point margin following late tries to halfback Adam Reynolds and Greg Inglis blew to result out and it failed to reflect the epic battle that raged between the two side for almost 70 minutes.
Stand-in Bulldogs captain Graham, who ended up on report for a tackle on Souths forward Dave Tyrell, was magnificent in a losing team.