George Ndaira is a man who has played an important role in the success of the NSW Cup Newcastle Knights in the past two seasons, both behind the scenes, and most recently, on the paddock.
After stints playing in the NRL for the St George Illawarra Dragons, South Sydney Rabbitohs as well as eight first grade appearances for the Newcastle Knights between 2009 and 2010, he took up a position as assistant coach of the NSW Cup Knights in 2014.
When hooker Chad Redman departed the Knights to join the Gold Coast Titans in June and the side was struck by a number of injuries in the second half of the year, the assistant coach answered the call to resume his playing duties.
Ndaira provided experience and leadership to the young team during the finals campaign before playing his part in the thrilling premiership win against the Wyong Roos.
The Knights then progressed to the NRL State Championship match to take on the Ipswich Jets at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
While the Knights were unable to claim the ultimate prize, Ndaira was proud of the team's accomplishments and the growth the side had made in 2015.
"It was a good achievement coming from seventh all the way to win the grand final last week and getting the opportunity to play out there today,” Ndaira told Knights TV in the sheds after the match.
"It's an experience the boys won't forget and one I won't forget either.”
With the temperature pushing above 30 degrees on Sunday, conditions were an additional challenge to contend with for the Knights and their Queensland opponents.
"It was really hot. I feel like I've lost my voice now and I kept looking around for a drink,” he said.
“It was hot, but both teams had to deal with it and I don't think we handled it too badly.
In his assessment of the loss, Ndaira believed the Knights were well within grasp of a win and surged back in the second half, but were unable to narrow the Jets' lead.
“I thought in the second half we were coming over the top of them a little bit but we just didn't make the most of our opportunities,” he said.
As well as leadership within the team, Ndaira contributed eight of the Knights’ 12 points after he burrowed over the line in the 29th minute and converted two of the team’s tries.
“I got a few points today, which is good and I scored a try and that always helps in a grand final,” he said.
“As they say, I'd give it all back to get the result your way.
"It wasn't the case today, but you never know what will happen.”
However, just 10 minutes into the second half, the interchange hooker was forced from the field for the remainder of the match due to injury.
“I dislocated my shoulder and it was pretty sore at the time, but I got it back in thankfully thanks to the doc,” he said.
“It's a bit sore now, but it's not too bad.”
Ndaira will undergo scans and further assessment during week.
Meanwhile, Jake Mamo, who suffered a concussion in the match, was assessed and is recovering with rest.