Manly winger David 'Wolfman' Williams has played two games back in the top squad after missing 11 months due to suspension and selection, and his club skipper Jamie Lyon says it's great to see the cult figure bounce back.
A Test debutant and premiership-winner in his 2008 debut year, Williams was equal top try scorer in 2013 with clubmate and opposite flanker Jorge Taufua.
He was heavily criticised for a below-par performance in the 2013 decider and had a sluggish start to 2014 – failing to score in his seven games before being hit with a season-ending suspension by the NRL for betting on games in which Manly was involved.
The off-contract 28-year-old started 2015 in the NSW Cup and, despite an avalanche of injuries to the backline in the top grade squad, saw younger players such as Cheyse Blair and Brayden Wiliame preferred by coach Geoff Toovey, with a playing future at the club beyond 2015 seeming increasingly unlikely.
Williams however continued to train with the top squad, captaining the NSW Cup team as its fullback and goalkicker, and his persistence was rewarded with a call-up for Manly's Round 7 loss to the Bulldogs.
Despite a quiet game he held his spot the following week against Melbourne with Lyon out injured and played a starring role with two goals and the match-winning try, running for over 100 metres.
Named to play a third straight game with Lyon back but Steve Matai out suspended, Williams' persistence was praised by his skipper.
"He had a really good game for us down in Melbourne, kicked a few goals which is good and scored a good try," Lyon said.
"I'm happy for him and it's good to see him play some good footy. He had a tough little trot there for a while and he's bounced back pretty well.
"It's good for him to get a bit of confidence and like I said play some good footy."
Lyon said it could be hard to read what the bearded flanker was thinking but said his energy at training was infectious.
"He's a tough one to crack sometimes Wolfy, he's a little bit out there sometimes but he's a great character and good to have around the team and we enjoy seeing him [at training]," he said.
"His confidence isn't lacking, he's doing well and especially out on the training field he's always jumping round with enthusiasm. It's infectious and it's good for the team – we get a buzz off it."
Williams was typically tight-lipped when he addressed media at the club's Narrabeen base.
"It was good, it was good to get the win really," Williams said of the win over Melbourne. "Haven't had a win for a while all year, even in premier league
"It was very good and a tough effort and hopefully we can back it up this week. I think everyone's seen that, it's just been effort; put in the effort and we can do the work. [We] beat the top [team] twice, don't know why we can't do it for everyone else."
Williams wasn't forthcoming about what coach Geoff Toovey had asked of him, nor on his playing future.
"I've got enough goals for myself. I set myself high expectations so I don't think that's really needed," he said in response to the Toovey question, adding "Just to be in the top squad and playing at my best" when prompted.
And of his contractual future: "It's a long way away, I'm not even in the top squad for week-to-week, I'll just work on that and go from there."