Unheralded Bulldogs winger Reimis Smith patiently waited for a shot to prove his worth as a regular first-grader.
When that opportunity was presented to him this season Smith was determined to make the most of it.
Toward the back end of the season the Bulldogs have played their best football, winning four of their past five games, three of which were against top eight teams.
Smith was a standout for the Bulldogs in their 38-0 thrashing of the Dragons last Sunday, punctuating his five-star display with the first hat-trick of his brief NRL career.
The 21-year-old made his first grade debut in round 12 of the 2016 season against Canberra and said his small taste of top-flight football provided strong incentive to become a full-time NRL player.
"I always knew I could play first grade and I knew if I got the chance again I'd strive," Smith said.
"In pre-season I had a goal of starting in first grade in round one but unfortunately I had a few injuries in the lead-up so I started in the ISP (Intrust Super Premiership).
"I gave myself a date halfway through the year that I wanted to get back into first grade so I worked towards that.
"My injuries definitely gave me motivation. As hard as it was being out, it made me even more hungry to want to get back.
"I gave it my all in ISP, hoping my time in the NRL would come again and eventually it did in round 15, so I took it with both hands and ran with it. I was determined to not to find myself back in ISP."
Smith has chalked up 10 appearances in first grade in 2018 and says his confidence has grown simply by simply believing more in himself.
"I wish the season didn't end this week," Smith said.
"Each week I've been building a lot of confidence which I think has been my biggest thing this year.
"You have to believe in yourself and back your ability especially in this competition. And that's what I did, kept backing myself to improve every week to make sure I stayed in first grade."
Smith, who has played one season of a two-year deal with the Bulldogs, believes his team's recent good form bodes well for the future.
"We got more wins at the back end of the season than the start. With so many young players coming through the future does look promising," he said.
"Finishing off this season the way we have is going to give us a lot of confidence going into pre-season, in which we will hopefully have a big one and come round one we can see what we can do."
The Doggies host fourth-placed Cronulla on Sunday afternoon in their final game of the season.
The finals-bound Sharks are arguably the competition's form team but Smith believes the Bulldogs are more than capable of drawing the curtain on their season with a win.
"It's going to be a tough game but I'm looking forward to it," he said.
"They're playing some good footy at the moment but so are we. And even though it's the last game and we're not in finals we are still determined to get the win and finish the season off on a good note."
Bulldogs v Sharks - Round 25