It wasn’t the way that Mat Rogers wanted his NRL career to end. He had dreams of holding the NRL premiership high up in the sky, and celebrating the win, the Titans first, with his team-mates.
For Mat Rogers, family means the world to him. His dream also contained images of him kissing his wife, Chloe Maxwell, as was kissing his children and reflecting on his stellar career in both the NRL and Rugby Union.
After going into the game prepared, and pumped to play game 200 in the grand final, the game turned out to be a nightmare, culminating in a 26 point loss against a rampant Roosters side.
Many would say that this wasn’t meant to be the way that Mat Rogers career was supposed to end. Stranded on 199 games, Rogers would be classified as one of those great players who was unlucky to not win a premiership.
The Titans firmly believed that they could make a strong run for the premiership, but it just wasn’t to be.
â€œIâ€™m shocked. It never entered my mind that this was it. I truly believed that we were going to win tonight,â€ Rogers said after the game.
â€œYou always believe that but it never once went through my mind that this was my last week of football. I just was really confident with what we put in place. Everyone felt good coming into the game.â€
What shocked Rogers, as well as his team-mates, was not the fact that they lost, but the nature in which it happened. By a landslide!
In a Titans side that oozed experience with veterans like Rogers, Prince, Bailey, Friend etc. it was meant to be the Titans who would be cool and collected heading into the game, with a home crowd of 45,000 behind them.
Instead, guided by form players in Braith Anasta, Todd Carney, and Mitchell Pearce, the Roosters grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck, and ran away with the game.
Rogers admitted that that style of football was the very style that the Titans had aimed to play. By the time he realised that the Titans had been man-handled by a rampant Roosters side, he knew the game was up, thus drawing time on his career.
â€œWe probably did some things wrong. Credit where creditâ€™s due. Once they got that 12-point lead, they turned the screws. They put the heat on us. I canâ€™t remember them dropping the ball in the second half.
â€œIt makes it tough. Thatâ€™s the sort of footy that wins big games. That was our goal, to play like that. They squeezed the life out of us in the second half.â€
Itâ€™s difficult for footballers when a decade of work and dedication to the craft is snuffed out in a single moment.
Retiring at the age of 34, Mat Rogers has unfortunately, lost both of his parents, and his son Max is currently being treated for autism.
Mat Rogers will be a huge loss for the NRL, but he is ready to take on a more family-man role, and give his family all the support they need.
â€œLook, Iâ€™m really comfortable in the decision Iâ€™ve made. Iâ€™m excited about the next part of life,â€ Rogers said.
â€œMy wife Chloe has been unbelievable over the past four years. Sheâ€™s basically put her life on hold to support me and look after our boy, whoâ€™s got special needs. Itâ€™s probably time for me to help out a bit, become Mr Mum.
â€œIâ€™m not disappointed in my career. The world wonâ€™t stop spinning. Life goes on.
â€œIâ€™m devastated. I wonâ€™t say Iâ€™m not. But Iâ€™ve got an amazing wife, an amazing family and a lot to look forward to.â€
Before the start of the game, Rogers endeavored to ensure that the game’s focus was not solely on him, but rather on the team itself.
Despite that, Titans skipper Scott Prince, who fought back tears at the post-match press conference, admitted that sending out stalwart Mat Rogers with a premiership was an added impetus for the players.
â€œWe’ve got a guy in there (Mat Rogers) who is retiring, and I made it my personal goal to send him off the way we deserved. I guess that’s life,â€ Prince said.
Fellow veteran Luke Bailey, strongly believed that this could be the Titans year. It was certain limitations however that restricted the Titans after the Roosters took upped the ante in the second half.
â€œThey stepped it up that last quarter and we couldnâ€™t catch up. On top of losing the game, it was just disappointing the way we did it,â€ Bailey said.
â€œAll the signs were there. I thought all the stars had aligned for a win. Itâ€™s pretty shattering. I thought this team was the team to do it.â€