Shaun Wane cut an emotional figure as he reflected on a seven-year spell as Wigan head coach that ended in perfect fashion with a third Grand Final win at Old Trafford.
Wane, who represented the Warriors as a player before being promoted from assistant coach in 2011, announced his decision to step down in the aftermath of Magic Weekend in May.
Wigan lost their next three games as their season threatened to come off the rails.
But Wane’s men rediscovered their form to book their place in a fifth Grand Final in six years before edging Warrington 12-4 in a tense battle on Saturday.
“It’s the perfect end,” said Wane. “I’m not going to put myself in a bad mood thinking about the performance because I don’t have to do that any more.
“I didn’t ever think we were going to lose the game – there was enough spirit and desire in the team.
“It was a win and the only way to drive out of here is with a cup and a ring.
“I’m so pleased for all my staff and players who have had to put up with me for many years; I’m not easy to work with or work for. They’ve made my career special.
“It was a very emotional dressing room and a tough one.
“It wouldn’t have defined my career if we’d lost that but I’m so glad we won. I’m going to have a good month and a drink.
“We’ve had a good journey.”
Wane insisted he has no regrets as he prepares to join Scottish Rugby in a part-time role as high performance coach.
“I’m the world’s most stubborn man,” he said. “I’ve made a decision and I’m going to stick with it.
“Wigan’s been fantastic for me and I think I’ve done a bit for the club as well.
“I’ll miss everything about it but this has made the next few months very enjoyable.”
Winger Dom Manfredi was Wigan’s hero with two tries on just his fifth appearance following a two-year injury absence.
On Manfredi, Wane added: “When Dom got his second try I was so happy for him because of the place he’s been.
“He was outstanding and I’m hoping he’s the big story. He’s a special kid and there’s a place in my heart for him.”
Warrington head coach Steve Price was critical of referee Robert Hicks after Sam Tomkins twice escaped a yellow card in the first half.
The Wigan full-back was guilty of a trip and then slid into Daryl Clark’s head with his knees but on both occasions Hicks felt a penalty was sufficient.
“What do you think?” Price said when asked for his thoughts on the incidents. “Certainly that would have been a yellow card if it was a normal game.
“They were two tough calls and we couldn’t get a win there, but sometimes you don’t get those calls.
“Defensively they were outstanding and hard to break down. They kept turning us away on the tryline and we did the same to them.
“There wasn’t much between both sides but credit to Wigan tonight.”
Price felt the “outstanding” Stefan Ratchford was a worthy winner of the Harry Sunderland Trophy and was not too despondent despite Warrington coming up short in both major finals.
“We’ve got a backbone of a really tough, resilient football team now and that showed through some great displays throughout the season,” he said.
“To knock off the league leaders (St Helens) last week and give ourselves a chance right up to the 77th minute tonight, I’m super proud. We’ll come back bigger and better next year.”