Taulima Tautai says Wigan’s players are as close as “brothers”.
The Warriors prop claimed the first piece of silverware of his senior career with a typically bustling performance against Warrington.
Shaun Wane’s men rallied from 6-2 down at half-time to not only score tries through Oliver Gildart and Josh Charnley, but keep their opponents – who boast the deadliest attack in Super League – from breaching their line.
And the 28-year-old says the adversity they have faced, and overcome, this season helped galvanise them for the business end of the campaign.
“We’ve had some hard times this year, we’ve had kids in there at times,” he said.
“But we always knew the people who would get us through were us, we’re like brothers.”
If Lockers was on the wing, everyone would have stepped up!
Sean O’Loughlin returned after more than two months out and Tautai says he had a big impact on the team.
“Lockers has not trained in ages and you’d never know, he showed what calibre of player he is,” said the ex-Wakefield prop.
“He makes a massive difference to our side. If he was on the wing, everyone would have stepped up!
“And for the guys leaving, it’s a good farewell present.”
Among those on the sidelines were academy-products such as Micky McIlorum, Dom Manfredi, Lee Mossop and the Tomkins brothers.
There remained a strong ‘local feel’ to the side which beat Warrington, and Tautai admits the overseas contingent have found a home from home.
“Me, Frankie (Nuuausala) and Willie (Isa), we all feel like Wiganers now,” he said.
“My son was born here, he has a Wigan accent. Seriously, me parents came over a month ago and they struggled to understand what he was saying!”
Victory has secured them a place in the World Club Challenge against Tautai’s former side Cronulla.
Details are expected to be thrashed out over the next few days, with the annual showcase fixture likely to take place at the DW Stadium next February.
Uncertainty hangs over the other two fixtures which have completed the World Club Series over the last two years.
Tautai is still close friends with some of his former Sharks team-mates, but is not looking too far ahead just yet.
“I just want to take this in, and enjoy it,” he added.