Thousands of messages of support from family, rival fans and complete strangers helped Adam Elliott move on from the unwanted headlines at the end of last season.
The 24-year-old returns to the paddock next week for the Indigenous All Stars back at full fitness and with the darkest day of his promising career behind him, some five months on after being splashed across the front page of The Daily Telegraph dancing naked on a pub balcony.
The Mad Monday saga landed the Bulldogs a record $250,000 NRL fine and Elliott in the eye of a tabloid storm.
Elliott avoided a police conviction along with former teammate Asipeli Fine by pleading guilty to wilful and obscene exposure during Canterbury's post-season celebrations in the Sydney CBD.
Elliott and Fine also copped $25,000 fines ($10,000 suspended), while the Bulldogs' hefty club sanction was reduced to $125,000 upon appeal.
He came under fire for drinking a day before he was scheduled for off-season wrist surgery – an operation he delayed by three months to see out Canterbury's 2018 campaign – but said the support shown to him afterwards put the unsavoury incident in perspective.
"I know who I am and my family and everyone close to me knows who I am," Elliott said as he fronted media for the first time since the post-season scandal.
"I had an extreme amount of support during that time.
"To have the amount of support that I did it was quite easy for me to look forward and make sure I dealt with it best I could.
"I remember coming out of surgery and I had about 2500 messages on my Instagram unread, a lot on my Facebook and then texts.
"I'm not too sure but there was a few thousand there and they were all positive.
"There was not one negative comment, and that was a big part of how I got through it all.
"There were general NRL fans who probably hope I break my leg when I run out for the Bulldogs, but they were messaging me on the Tuesday saying they had my back.
"It would be unfair for the people that had my back and were there when I needed them, to look back and dwell on things instead of looking forward and trying to be my best self."
Elliott grew up a Bulldogs fan and has previously knocked back more money on offer from the Warriors and Eels to stay with the club he first joined on a development deal at 14.
Repaying the blue and white faithful, along with a support network that ranges from family and friends to his home town of Tathra and St Gregory's Campbelltown, is his priority in 2019.
Elliott also remains in contact with Fine, who was off contract and suffered a dislocated hip and fractured pelvis playing in the Intrust Super Premiership for Canterbury just days after the Mad Monday incident.
Fine's injury was likened to that suffered by car crash victims and initially feared to have ended his footballing career after 13 NRL appearances.
NRL.com understands Fine has secured a one-year deal with a second-tier team in 2019 after talks with Super League clubs were scotched by scandal and injury.
"For that sort of an injury, and to see that he's in a positive mind frame, it really speaks volumes of his character," he said.
"I was checking in with Asa a lot, we spoke about it a lot post [the court case] so he's doing good."