Just days after announcing he will quit the only NRL club he has ever known, Penrith lock Luke Lewis admits it will be heartbreaking not running out in the Panthers colours.
Lewis sought and was granted a release to leave the Panthers at the end of a season in which he was stripped of the captaincy, the veteran representative star claiming he had grown stale after 11 years with the club.
But while he may have grown stale, the passion for the jumper has not diminished - Lewis admitting to an eerie feeling as he donned the jersey for Saturday night's 26-18 loss to Wests Tigers.
"It didn't really hit me until tonight with all the stuff that's just been playing on my mind a bit," Lewis said.
"It's going to be a bit of a heartbreaking experience not to be running out in the Penrith gear, but I'll be watching them with good intentions and wishing them all the best and following them pretty closely as well.
"I know I won't be running out with it but I've got mates for life here and I know that they'll do well over the next couple of years."
Lewis almost came up with the try which could have set the Panthers on the path to victory, only for Tim Moltzen to knock the ball from his grasp as he attempted to score.
For Lewis, he was just pleased to finally end a difficult week.
"It's been a pretty hectic week for myself just mentally - it probably wasn't my best preparation," he said."But when I got out on the field everything went away ... I'm glad this week's out of the way."