Almost four months after being selected for Queensland's State of Origin side from reserve grade, Jaydn Su'A admits he is better for copping the Wayne Bennett axe.
The strange season of Su'A has been just part of the twists and turns for South Sydney, who have transformed their defence in the second half of the campaign.
The Rabbitohs will enter Friday's preliminary final against Manly as favourites to be first team through to the grand final - against Melbourne or Penrith.
But it wasn't all that long ago Souths were labelled pretenders after copping hammerings from both the Storm and the Panthers - conceding 50 points in both matches.
The hammerings cost Su'A his NRL spot in May, as his right edge leaked a combined 12 tries in the two games, before having to go through reserve grade to earn Origin selection.
"I learnt a lot. I learnt the importance of just staying in the game and staying focused," Su'A said.
"Sometimes I had a few concentration lapses and that is all down to myself and my effort areas.
"I am just glad he did that and put me in the right direction for the right end of the season.
"Now I am able to put that all behind me and focus on this finals series and this prelim coming up."
Su'A's defence has improved significantly since this return to the top grade in round 14.
It comes in his last year at Souths before his move to St George Illawarra, after following Wayne Bennett and his Rabbitohs successor Jason Demetriou down from Brisbane midway through 2019.
"It was very hard (to leave)," Su'A said.
"I've got a lot of good mates at this club and I am really passionate about it.
"It was a really hard decision but one I had to make. I just thought I could take my game to another level at the Dragons."
"I am coming to the realisation this could be my last game, or the week after will.
"It is coming to an end, I'm just trying to soak it up and enjoy the little moments."
Meanwhile, Rabbitohs players are unlikely to talk about their horror preliminary final record together before Friday night.
Souths have come up short in 2018, 2019 and 2020, with their failure to progress to the season decider certain to be a major talking point this week.
But if one-time captain Mark Nicholls has his way, it won't be raised internally.
"We haven't really spoken about it. It's a completely different team, it is every year," Nicholls said.
"The fact is that we have made the last four prelims.
"But it's a completely different team and different group."
Australian Associated Press