A “heartbroken” George Williams choked back the tears as he reflected on the end of his Wigan career.
The England halfback had high hopes of exiting with an appearance at Old Trafford.
But the Warriors' title charge was derailed by Salford in Friday’s semi-final, bringing the curtain down on Williams’ career with his hometown club.
Having been with the club since a schoolboy – he was ballboy for the 2010 Grand Final – he worked his way into the side in 2013 as a teenager, before going on to establish himself in the No.6 role and becoming a marquee player.
He will join Bateman and close friend Ryan Sutton at Canberra next year.
“I’m heartbroken, really,” said Williams. “I’ll have a few good days with my mates before I leave, but...it’s not the ending I’d dreamed about.
“Ever since I signed for Canberra I’d wanted to go out at Old Trafford, so I’m bitterly disappointed. I’m pretty emotional. Just gutted, really.
“Our last two games have probably been our worst in the last four months, which hurts.
“When it mattered, we didn’t perform and that’s hard to take.
“But we were way off – we didn’t deserve to be in the final with those performances.”
Williams has already won two Grand Finals and was a member of the side which beat Cronulla to lift the World Club Challenge in 2017.
“I’ll try and erase this game and remember the good times,” he said.
“And I’ve got so many. So, so many. From my debut, Grand Finals, derbies, World Club...I’ve got so many memories. I know I’m leaving but I’ve got friends for life. I know it’s a bit cliche but I have.”
Before he moves to Canberra, Williams will be playing in Sydney after being the only Wigan player included in the England squad for the World Cup Nines tournament in Sydney this month.
He has also been confirmed in the Great Britain squad for the Lions tour to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.