Danny McGuire insisted he had no regrets about his decision to leave Leeds after he inspired the Rhinos to a record-extending eighth Super League title.
The veteran halfback was playing in his final match for his hometown club and he produced a kicking masterclass to guide Leeds to a 24-6 victory over Castleford in the grand final.
McGuire added a brace of tries and two drop-goals to deservedly win a second Harry Sunderland Trophy in three years.
The 34-year-old helped launch Leeds’ golden era with a title-clinching try against Bradford in 2004 and has made a habit of saving his best for Old Trafford.
But the Rhinos will defend their crown in 2018 without their captain after allowing him to join Hull KR.
“I made the decision and I’ve got to stick by it,” said McGuire. “The new challenge is going to be good for me.”
Like Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai in 2015, McGuire – along with his long-time halfback partner Rob Burrow – enjoyed the perfect ending to his Leeds career.
Castleford had won their previous eight meetings with their big-city neighbours and eased to League Leaders’ Shield success but the Tigers had no answer to grand final experts Leeds on their maiden Old Trafford appearance.
McGuire, who also laid on the first of two tries for Tom Briscoe, admitted he could not have dreamt of a better finish.
It was a humbling first grand final experience for Castleford, who finished 10 points clear of nearest challengers Leeds in the Super League table.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t do ourselves justice,” said coach Daryl Powell.
“If we’d done that and got beat then you can hold your hands up and say ‘fair enough’.
“Leeds didn’t see the best of us tonight and massively deserved the win. But they didn’t have much to beat.”