The fear of missing the finals for a ninth consecutive year is a powerful motivator for Wests Tigers and veteran Benji Marshall knows his time is running out to make September a reality for Michael Maguire's men.
As he enters his 18th year in the NRL, Marshall and co-captain Moses Mbye are charged with ending the longest finals drought in the NRL.
The 'so near and yet so far' scenario of finishing ninth in three of the past four years has only added to the frustration, with a golden opportunity squandered in the final round last year when the Sharks snared eighth spot with a 25-8 win.
"It's probably more about the fans when it gets mentioned," Marshall told NRL.com on Thursday.
"As players, we get disappointed, we put in a lot of hard work but it just doesn't go your way sometimes.
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"There's been nothing more frustrating than finishing ninth the past two years because you want to be playing finals and want to share the big games with those who support you.
"More than anything watching it filter through to the fans hurts the most. And being co-captain I want to be able to lead the side into the finals and change all that – that's my goal for this year."
Marshall insists the desire to play finals footy again wasn't his sole motivation for re-signing with the club for another 12 months in October.
At 35, he'll sit behind only Cameron Smith as the oldest player in the competition this season.
"I can only treat it like it's my last year, I've been doing that for three years now and it's worked well," Marshall said.
"If you play like it's your last year you just draw everything out of it.
"And if it ends up being your last you've approached it that way and can be happy going out knowing you had nothing left to give.
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"But if your body still feels like you can play and you can do things you need to do then play again.
"I don't feel like I'm old despite the guys reminding me I am. I feel I can take my game to another level this year."
Regardless of how the season pans out for Marshall and his Tigers, he'll take everything in his stride after an illustrious career.
"I'm so proud, I can't even tell you. I had a lot of highs at a young age and then a lot of lows in the middle thinking my career was over," Marshall said.
"To get back and be captain now and still contribute in games, when I reflect on it, I'm proud.
"I could've easily given up and stopped playing when I went to Brisbane but here I am still going at 35 and after five shoulder reconstructions.
"The Broncos move was one of the best things that ever happened to me. That's where I found passion and a love for the game again."