Eorl Crabtree admits he worries his colourful career could end without a Grand Final appearance.
The Huddersfield Giants prop was helpless again as his side wasted yet another opportunity to reach Old Trafford, losing 32-8 in Friday’s demoralising Super League semi-final at Wigan.
Failing in the play-offs has become a regular habit for the Fartowners, who have finished third in each of the last two seasons and first in 2013 but have still yet to get to the showpiece.
For Crabtree, who turned 33 on Saturday and has played more than 400 games for the West Yorkshire club, it is an increasingly major concern.
“It’s more frustrating than ever before,” he said.
“I do see the end in sight for me as a player. And that is worrying.
“Friday night was actually the best I’ve felt in a long time; I felt really fresh and massively up for that game. I wanted to get out there and put in a good performance, win and go through to the final and I believed we could.
“It just wasn’t to be. I’ve got a couple of years left as it stands at the moment but that’s only two opportunities to get to that final.
“That’s not many and it does worry me a little bit.”
Crabtree conceded that Huddersfield simply did not perform well enough to warrant a place in next week’s final. It was the fourth successive time they have lost against Wigan in 2015 but he felt the damage was self-inflicted.
“It was tough (losing) and the reason I felt it tough was because I was really comfortable out there,” added the forward, who has two Challenge Cup finals runners-up medals with Huddersfield.
“I didn’t think it was too physical, or the intensity was that high, we just lacked a little composure.
“Every time we got near their line we turned the ball over cheaply and didn’t make the most of our opportunities. Unfortunately for us, Wigan did.
“We stripped them of numbers but every time we did we either dropped the ball, wasted the overlap or went into touch. Every time we got into a try-scoring position we coughed it up; you just can’t do that in games like that.
“Wigan just showed you how to play by just keeping hold of the ball, making the most of the opportunities and also everything did go in their favour.
“I’m not saying they didn’t deserve that; they earned the right - the score reflected the game, and there’s no hiding from that.
“They were fantastic but the bounce of the ball, the penalty count, everything just went their way and it’s just because of how hard they worked for it as much as anything else.”
With Crabtree’s prop partner Craig Kopczak set to move on to Salford Red Devils for 2016, Jack Hughes heading to Warrington Wolves, Jodie Broughton joining Catalans Dragons and Chris Bailey returning home to Australia, there is movement in and out for the Giants next term.
They have recruited well with the addition of experienced Kiwi prop Sam Rapira from New Zealand Warriors and highly-rated Melbourne Storm hooker Ryan Hinchliffe.
Larne Patrick – ironically set to play with Wigan in Manchester next week – will also return after a season long-loan at Warriors but will the changes be enough?