Coach Michael Cheika says there could have been no more deserving man of the match in the NSW Waratahs' Super Rugby final triumph than Adam Ashley-Cooper.
An ecstatic Adam Ashley-Cooper dubbed it "100 per cent the greatest moment in my rugby career" and coach Michael Cheika said there could not have been a more fitting man of the match than the NSW Waratahs ironman.
Three days after staying up til 4am to pen an inspiring poem about his 32 teammates, Ashley-Cooper's vintage two-try display helped lift the Waratahs to an elusive maiden Super Rugby title.
The Tahs' thrilling 33-32 victory over the colossal Crusaders at ANZ Stadium also earned Ashley-Cooper his long-awaited first grand final triumph of any type after more than 20 years of trying.
"I played a lot of grand finals as a junior and never got the chockies on any," the 30-year-old said.
"It kind of all makes sense now. All the years of disappointment was all worthwhile just for this one moment and this is locked away and something that no-one can take away from me or the group."
The only player to play all possible 560 minutes at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, Ashley-Cooper didn't miss a single game of the Waratahs' glorious 18-match campaign in 2014 either.
Cheika, though, said it's not just the on-field contributions that make the indestructible centre and vice-captain a hero at the Waratahs.
"There's one word of describing that guy on and off the field and that's class," Cheika said.
"Every week he delivers and I'm not using that as a big sweeping statement.
"He delivers every week consistently, the same quality, sometimes a little bit better than his normal - but his normal's very, very good.
"Off the field, last year he stepped up into a leadership role that he probably hasn't had before and he's flourished in it.
"He's really used the little grey flicks in his hair to all his advantage. He's swanned and charmed all the younger players.
"He's got them looking up to him because he delivers and that's what talks in the end."
Ashley-Cooper took 12 painstaking hours and several rewrites to produce his motivational masterpiece on Wednesday.
He said the idea came from stand-in captain Michael Hooper's decision last month to ask a senior statesman of the team to deliver a weekly speech.
"It was my turn and I just felt like I needed to add something different," Ashley-Cooper said.
"The culture that I've learnt over the last 12 months isn't something that is given; it's created and I'd like to believe that I was a little creative in my approach and added something special."
In a team of heroes across the park, No.8 Wycliff Palu was a mighty metre eater throughout the gripping final despite spending time in the head bin, fellow enforcer Jacques Potgieter was also immense and Hooper completed the triumphant campaign as the only Waratah to play out the 80 minutes in all 18 matches.
Flanker Stephen Hoiles provided the fairytale after being told he'd never play again, winger Rob Horne was superb, fullback Israel Folau typically threatening, centre Kurtley Beale offered the finesse and five-eighth Bernard Foley proved the match-winner with his last-gasp 44-metre penalty goal.
But Cheika couldn't praise halfback Nick Phipps - whose late try-saving cover tackle on Crusaders winger Nemani Nadolo proved a snapshot of his outstanding season - enough for his courage and commitment.
"He ran himself empty," Cheika said. "That's the true test of a quality player.
"He wanted to (finish the game) but he couldn't get there any more.
"Because we were playing side to side and then he was defending side to side, he was racking up some run metres. Off the ball, they were pretty crazy.
"He's like the fittest guy in the team - sorry `Hoops' - but even he ran himself out and that's what I love to see from the players."