Bulldogs coach Dean Pay is "a sofite" – just ask new recruit Dean Britt.
The 25-year-old was presented with his jersey for the round one Eels game last week by Pay, a best friend and former teammate of Britt's father Darren.
"There was no tears from the coach – but close. Maybe he's got a soft spot for me – might help later in the year," Britt told NRL.com with a wink.
"It was good to see that it meant something to him, my dad, and family. It also meant quite a bit to me."
But if anyone shows resilience and the ability to stand firm, it's the young NRL backrower.
He toiled away at previous clubs - Storm, Rabbitohs - for a meagre 17 games over three seasons before the Bulldogs gave him a chance.
Bulldogs look to nullify Cowboys firepower
All that scrambling for a place in the top side came before he arrived at Belmore. Then as pre-season was about to start Britt had to have his tonsils out.
It doesn't stop there. About 10 days after the operation he woke up one night with blood in his mouth.
"I've had tonsil problems for ages so I thought it was time to get rid of them so I wouldn't miss any footy games," he said.
"I gave myself a 15-day recovery time but about three days before I was due to start pre-season my throat started to bleed. I woke up in the middle of the night with blood pouring out of my mouth."
He took himself off to a hospital emergency centre where they stemmed the bleeding – but not entirely.
"They were about to send me home and I was standing in front of this glass screen I was looking up to keep my head up. But then I looked down and opened my mouth and blood went all over the glass," Britt said.
Bulldogs v Cowboys - Round 2
"They rushed me back into surgery to fix it up."
Britt said the two surgeries and associated disruptions meant he lost 10kg in weight.
"Last year I was playing at 100 kilos but I got down to just under 91 but I'm back to 101 at the moment," he said.
Britt started behind the eight-ball with his running fitness when he got back to training and was trying desperately to make up for lost time.
"But I always seemed out of breath," he said.
"So Tony Ayoub (head physio) who I knew from my Melbourne days, took me off for a blood test and I had a viral infection.
"It wasn't until after Christmas that I felt all normal again. Because my throat was stitched together every time I swallowed it hurt. So it was mainly yogurt I ate."
Somehow through all that, Britt got to the starting line – named in Pay's 17 with the No.14 jersey on his back for the Parramatta game.
Match Highlights: Eels v Bulldogs
"I was pretty nervous as expected. It was an exciting night," he said, admitting he had to push some of the emotions aside, especially joining his premiership-winning father's old club.
"I had to put it all aside and say to myself 'Stop thinking about it, there's a game of footy to be played'."
He made 11 hit-ups in his 39 minutes on the field, along with 28 tackles.
And now for his first home game on Thursday against the Cowboys at ANZ Stadium – in front of nobody.
"It will be a bit weird but not unlike a trial game or even a contract training session," Britt said.
"But it's the same for every team. We'll all just push on and see how we go."