Leigh Halfpenny admitted his legs were "killing" him as he stepped up to take the penalty that sealed Wales's 13-6 win over England on his return to Test rugby after a prolonged absence due to concussion.
The 30-year-old fullback, who missed the Six Nations Grand Slam campaign, only played because coach Warren Gatland did not want to risk Liam Williams ahead of the start of the World Cup in September.
Back in a @WelshRugbyUnion jersey for the first time since November - not that you'd know it...— Sky Sports Rugby (@SkySportsRugby) August 17, 2019
Halfpenny with the up-and-under, and then kicking the points 🔥
A key man in Wales' 13-6 win in Cardiff. #WALvENG match report 👉 https://t.co/DV8MtHkFOu pic.twitter.com/LAJDMlk7mD
Williams had pulled up in the warmup on Saturday with a tight hamstring and Halfpenny, who was not event listed in the initial match-day 23, was asked to step in.
Halfpenny, who was concussed following a late tackle from Samu Kerevi during the Wales victory over Australia in Cardiff last November, produced a solid performance, capping it with the penalty that ensured Wales went top of the world rankings for the first time in their history.
Wales secures the #1 spot in the World Rugby Rankings with a win over England.— FloRugby (@FloRugby) August 17, 2019
It's the first time the All Blacks haven't held the #1 ranking since 2009. pic.twitter.com/KoxkkkQf6u
"He is absolutely shattered," related Gatland. "He said to Alun Wyn before he kicked that last penalty, 'my legs are killing me.'"
Halfpenny, who has been capped 81 times by his country since making his Test debut in November 2008, had undergone a full session on Saturday morning.
"I'm not going to lie—we had a couple of tough sessions in the last couple of days," said Halfpenny. "But you get the call, and that adrenaline just kicks in. It's an opportunity to put that jersey on.
"On Friday, we had speed endurance training. We did Broncos, which are basically shuttles, and the boys put it in on Friday after the captain's run. Then on Saturday morning I had leg weights followed by a watt bike session in the altitude room. [I] wasn't walking too well, I will be honest."
The four-time-capped British & Irish Lion said he had made a huge effort to regain his fitness so he would play for his country again.
"You never know when it could be the last time that you wear that jersey," he said. "You just keep working hard. It was a real tough Test match, and the boys dug deep at times when we needed to. It was a great result.
"We've got that momentum going now ahead of our camp in Turkey. The boys will be putting the hard work in again."
The Wales medical staff will assess the status of several players prior to leaving for Turkey.
Injury-plagued flanker James Davies suffered a concussion, Jake Ball and Aaron Wainwright suffered dead legs, while man-of-the-match Dan Biggar took a knock and had a tight groin.
The Welsh are bidding to improve on their best World Cup performance under Gatland of reaching the 2011 World Cup semifinals and wrap up preparations with two more games before the World Cup.
Wales vs Ireland August 31 (LIVE on FloRugby for US Subscribers)
Wales vs Ireland September 7 (LIVE on FloRugby for US Subscribers)