While the NSW Cup Newcastle Knights fell short of claiming the NRL State Championship on Sunday, Lachlan Fitzgibbon remained proud and grateful to have earned the opportunity to play on such a significant occasion at ANZ Stadium.
The Knights were defeated by Queensland rivals, the Ipswich Jets 26-12 in the curtain raiser match to the NRL premiership grand final.
"It was disappointing not to win that final game, but it's a credit to the boys how far we got this year, to win the NSW Championship," Fitzgibbon said.
"We set that goal at the start of the year and we did that."
The side were confident and well prepared approaching the state showdown, but were unable to counter the Jets attack.
"It was a a bit of the unknown because we hadn't versed them before and there was alot of hype about how they play and the style they play," he said.
"We just tried to stick to our principles and tried to defend what they threw at us, but it just wasn't good enough today.
Fitzgibbon had plenty of praise for the side's young players who rose to the occasion in the inter-state decider.
"We had a number of good players today," he said.
"Kenny (Tofilau), he's still 18 years of age and able to play under 20s.
"Joe Tapine was good in the centres, so was (Damien) Sironen up front."
The NSW cup side offered many of the Club's youngest talents the opportunity to showcase their ability and to develop as competitors.
"I think I worked out last night the average playing age of the team is 21," he said.
"It's massive for us being 21 and playing on that big stage.
"I'll remember it forever."