By rights, Te Maire Martin should have been playing reserve grade for North Queensland instead of their NRL season opener.
No wonder Martin was pinching himself after combining in the halves with Johnathan Thurston to celebrate the Cowboys legend's 300th game with a 20-14 victory over Cronulla in Townsville on Friday night.
New Zealand international Martin had been initially told by coach Paul Green that he would be playing second tier Queensland Cup this weekend.
He then earned a bench spot as a utility in a reshuffle after fullback Lachlan Coote (hamstring) went down.
But nothing could quite prepare Martin - or Cowboys fans in general - for what was to come.
Playmaker Michael Morgan surprisingly succumbed to an abdominal strain before kickoff.
Suddenly Martin was the starting half with man of the moment Thurston, who also eclipsed Matt Bowen's club record for 270 Cowboys games in Friday night.
"It all happened at once," Martin said of his starting berth.
"I was prepared for Q Cup. You don't want any injuries in the game but I am not complaining really - to play with JT in his 300th is pretty special."
It wasn't all beer and skittles for Martin though.
He looked to have undone all his good work when he threw an intercept that resulted in James Segeyaro's 67th-minute try, reducing North Queensland's lead to a worrying 16-14.
But Martin held his nerve providing a perfect foil for Thurston who predictably put on the winning play in the final minutes.
Thurston's pinpoint perfect grubber lobbed in backrower Gavin Cooper's chest for him to run away with the match-winning try in front of 15,900 ecstatic fans.
"It is a sign of a good player who when he does make a mistake he gets himself back into the game and he did that," Cowboys coach Paul Green said of Martin.
"A less experienced player would have gone back into his shell but he kept playing which is a good sign.
"But it's a great opportunity wherever he (Martin) plays to be able to spend a season playing with Johnno before the big fella rides off into the sunset."
Thurston will retire after his 17th and final NRL season in 2018.
Green was hopeful Morgan would return for their round two blockbuster against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.