Joey Leilua felt as though "someone was throwing a hammer at my leg", and he was tempted to deck Canberra's orange shirt trainer as he battled the burst blood vessel that briefly threatened his grand final berth.
Leilua returned to Raiders training and ran at "70-80 per cent" in front of 2000-odd fans at GIO Stadium on Tuesday.
The star centre's latest injury twist in a bizarre season saw him forced off late in Canberra's nail-biting win over South Sydney with an "egg" ballooning up in his left calf, and it wasn't until follow-up assessments on Monday cleared him of a strain that Leilua firmed to play in Sunday's decider against the Roosters.
"It looked like a big egg so I was trying to cover it [up] so no-one could see," Leilua said, recalling his nervous moments on the sidelines last Friday night with the Raiders holding a tight 10-6 lead.
"And then the physio kept coming and squeezing the shit out of my calf and I was about to give him something.
"He said it was a burst blood vessel and it looked worse than it was, but it was very sore at the time because it was near the shin so that was aching.
"It just felt like someone throwing a hammer at your leg. There's nothing there now."
Match: Roosters v Raiders
Grand Final -
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
- Nine Network
Leilua spent the weekend constantly icing the injury and using Canberra's $4000 'Game Ready' cold therapy system, a device that circulates cold water around an injury while applying compression to help speed up recovery times.
The first few minutes of his injury though were a different story. Leilua refused to move from the sidelines after coming from the field against Souths, too concerned with their shortened defence as the Rabbitohs looked to level up.
"I was barking at my teammates because I knew they were coming to our side because I was off," Leilua explained.
"There was a bit of miscommunication with the team line-up so I was just trying to get someone at right centre, trying to get Nick [Cotric] to come over."
Leilua's latest on-field mishap follows what was expected to be season-ending neck surgery earlier in the year, when a bulging disc could have left him paralysed with the wrong contact in a tackle, before copping a firework to the eye prior to kick-off in Melbourne at the start of the finals.
While Leilua trained along with Jack Wighton (shoulder) in the club's pink no-contact bibs on Tuesday, co-captain Josh Hodgson was kept away from training and his teammates due to a virus.
Tickets for the NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final 2019 are now on sale to the general public.