THE persevering image of the NRL Grand Final won’t be Johnathan Thurston kicking the winning drop-goal – but his celebration on the pitch with his daughter afterwards.
Pictures of the the teary Cowboys captain on the centre of the field with little Frankie – clutching a dark-skinned doll which in itself became a talking point on racial inclusion – melted the hardest of hearts.
But it didn’t surprise Wigan prop Tony Clubb, a doting dad of two who says he is driven by a desire to make his family proud.
“My kids mean everything to me, and that’s why you do it,” said the Londoner.
“Before you’re a rugby league player, you’re a father, and I idolise my family. Everything I do is to make them proud.
“For me, that’s what it’s about.
Before you’re a rugby league player, you’re a father, and I idolise my family. Everything I do is to make them proudTony Clubb
“My little boy, Billy, is only 12 weeks old so he won’t be there, but my girl Ella (three) will be. If we win, hopefully I can get her on the pitch with me.
“As much as you love being with the lads and that, behind you is your family, they’re a massive part for me.
“They sacrifice a lot to make me happy, so if we win – it’s all for them.”
Clubb has been in fine form this season, particularly during the last few weeks.
His low-error, high-tempo performances have helped Wigan cruise through the Super 8s – and a semi-final against Huddersfield – to secure a Grand Final date against Leeds.
“We’ve gone in to our last few games with the right attitude,” said Clubb.
“Castleford were in good form and we beat them, Huddersfield were going well, too.
“Even when we lost to Saints a few weeks ago, we dominated, we didn’t play badly – bar one lapse we’d have got the win - so we weren’t down about it afterwards.
“We’re being physical, and on the back of that we’re scoring points, and that’s what we’ll need to do this weekend.
“We felt we played alright against Huddersfield, we talked about what we could have done better, and we’ll be firing for Saturday.”
Former England international Clubb, who arrived ahead of the start of last season from London, was back at Old Trafford earlier this week for a tour of the stadium.
And the 28-year-old played down how much motivation they will draw from last year’s final defeat against St Helens.
“Going into the dressing-rooms again, and back onto the pitch... the whole team is excited and ready for Saturday,” said Clubb.
“Regardless of what happened last year, we’d be fired up for this one. “It’s the Grand Final, the biggest game of the year - if that doesn’t motivate you, what does?”