Sonny Bill Williams admits he was close to tears when his New Zealand team-mates saluted him with a haka after he was named the world's best rugby league player.
Williams capped his spectacular return to the 13-man code by scooping both player of the year and second rower of the year at the Rugby League International Federation awards dinner in Manchester.
The dual international beat fellow nominees, Kangaroos star Greg Inglis and Scotland international and Super League player of the year Danny Brough, for the top prize.
This year Williams helped the Sydney Roosters to the NRL Premiership after returning to league, following five successful years in rugby, in which he also won the Super title with the Chiefs, and with Canterbury, the provincial Premiership and the Ranfurly Shield.
Now the former All Black's hoping to add another World Cup to his name with the Kiwis, in Sunday's final against Australia at Old Trafford.
And the 28-year-old says he feels he's finally earned back the respect he lost when he left rugby league in controversial fashion, walking out on the Bulldogs in 2008 to play rugby union in France.
Williams says he's found peace with his Islam religion and by mending fences in league