Titans' marathon man Luke Douglas has described his devastation at accepting a one-match suspension that will see him miss the club's Round 1 season-opener against the Knights at Cbus Super Stadium on March 6.
The record-holder for most consecutive premiership matches with 215, Douglas's only previous suspension was the three matches he served at the end of the 2014 season for his involvement in Cronulla's supplements scandal.
With 67 carry-over points from a Grade One dangerous contact charge in Round 26 last season, a Grade One high tackle charge on Parramatta prop Daniel Alvaro in last weekend's trial in Alice Springs will see Douglas incur the first suspension for foul play in his 239-game career.
Speaking to NRL.com only moments after deciding in consultation with coach Neil Henry to take the early guilty plea, Douglas was visibly upset in conceding that his unblemished on-field record had come to an end.
"I haven't really had much experience with it all; I'm pretty gutted. I've never sat on the sideline," said the 29-year-old, who was not permitted to engage in club activities while serving his ASADA ban.
"It's the same sort of feeling from the other suspension. To miss a game for something small like that... Pretty shattered to tell you the truth.
"In the back of my head I was thinking maybe I could go my whole career without missing one but obviously not to be and you've got to take the positives, I've had a good run. I've been able to string a few together so now it's just... I don't know what to do actually.
"You know how players do promos at half-time and stuff? I've never done any of that. It's going to be weird."
The 2015 Ken Stephen Medal winner for his work in the community and 2015 Paul Broughton Medalist as the Titans' best and fairest, Douglas will line up against South Sydney at Pizzey Park in Burleigh in the club's final trial this Saturday.
The only previous black mark on his on-field record of fair play was a send off for a high shot on Chris Bailey playing for Cronulla against Manly in Round 25, 2009, an incident that didn't attract any subsequent charge from the match review committee.
"It was a pretty bad experience actually," Douglas recalled.
"The Manly crowd were into me and one of the trainers said I got a big 'golly' on my back and we lost in the dying minutes of the game.
"We were down to 12 men for 60 minutes so that was pretty hard. To then find out it should only have been a penalty...
"The only other time was in high school and I was holding down the player too long and I remember getting 10 minutes [in the sin bin] and I had to sit on the bench next to the school principal."
While a number of players have been suspended and missed grand finals, Douglas said missing the opening game of the season will be just as hard to take.
"I think so because you've done all the hard work and you just want to get out there and show everyone what you've got," he said.
"I've always been there to try and do my bit for the team and I'm going to be sitting on the sideline watching, which is going to be a weird experience."
This story first appeared on nrl.com.au.