Dene Halatau (pictured) watched from the sidelines for the final two months last year as the Bulldogs surged into the grand final.
The international and veteran of 174 NRL games was a strong performer as Des Hasler's team surprised many and reached the premiership decider to be defeated 14-4 by Melbourne.
Now, 30, and off contract at the end of the year, the versatile Bulldogs player has started this year in sound form playing off the interchange bench.
"In round 19 last season, against Parramatta at ANZ Stadium, I tore the medial ligament in my left knee," he said.
"I missed the grand final which was disappointing.
"I had to rest and get treatment for my knee.
"The left knee was my good knee, as I had five ligament tears in my right knee throughout my career."
Halatau's career started in 2003 with the Wests Tigers and in 2005 he played in the club's historic grand final win over North Queensland.
But after seven seasons with the Tigers he joined the Bulldogs.
"I love it here at the Bulldogs, it's a great club to be with," Halatau said.
"I am off contract at the end of this season and I know I am coming towards the end of footy but I want to keep playing for a few more years."
Throughout his career, Halatau has played centre, five-eighth, lock, second row and hooker.
In recent seasons he's played most of his footy in the back row.
The proud Kiwi has also played 15 times for New Zealand.
Halatau has also been thinking about his future.
"I did a business diploma a few years ago and did some financial planning," he said.
"But now with a friend of mine I have gone into building and developing and I shall see how that goes."
Halatau said the support of his family was a stabilising influence in his life.
He and wife Rochelle have a four-year-old daughter, Tayla.
Music is another great passion in his life with Halatau over the years performing many times in public, including a few appearances on The Footy Show.
He is also an ambassador for the RSPCA and done work with other charities.