Wigan full-back Matty Bowen put on a brave face after experiencing a hat-trick of Grand Final defeats and then revealed he became a father for the third time just hours before running out at Old Trafford.
Daughter Tatum was induced by medical staff at a Wigan hospital to ensure the birth occurred before the Super League title decider against Leeds, who were 22-20 winners.
While Leeds' triumph enabled Jamie Peacock, Kevin Sinfield and Kylie Leuluai to bow out of the game on a high, the 33-year-old Bowen was left to reflect on another title that got away. A runner-up with North Queensland Cowboys in 2005, Bowen was on the losing side for Wigan in 2014 and, after hanging up his boots, will end his two-year stint in Super League without a medal.
Wigan coach Shaun Wane had spoken in the build-up of the desire to give the popular Australian a fitting send-off and he was distraught for the player.
Wigan had opened the scoring through departing winger Joe Burgess and, after trailing 16-6 at half-time, threatened to repeat their famous comeback against Warrington in 2013 when quick-fire tries from Bowen and Dom Manfredi edged them in front after 48 minutes.
Leading 18-16, Wigan captain Sean O'Loughlin surprisingly decided to go for the posts when his side were awarded a penalty on the hour and, although Bowen kicked his fourth goal, it left the door open for Leeds to win it with a converted try.