Twelve months ago Gold Coast Titans and Burleigh Bears five-eighth Cameron Cullen couldn't even crack the starting 17 for the Queensland Residents – now he is the captain.
It's been a remarkable year for Cullen with the 22-year-old making his NRL debut in April, just three months after signing with the Titans on a train and trial contract at the beginning of 2016.
But it's what he has overcome off the field that makes Cullen's achievements extraordinary, with his older brother Justin suddenly passing away in July last year.
Justin hit his head while diving off a boat on a trip to the Maldives and Cullen says the tragic incident put his life into perspective.
"It's been a pretty crazy 12 months to be honest. Being 18th man last year gave me a great experience and it's helped me a lot this year," Cullen said.
"I now know how the whole week works and what the preparations are like leading into the game.
"A lot has happened over the past year that has made me grow as a person and a footballer.
"I didn't really place too much onus on rugby league when I moved home after everything happened. I just tried to sort out my life off the field and be with my family.
"If anything, it made me work harder to achieve what I've always wanted to achieve.
"I started to put that little bit of extra effort in. I became a bit more narrow-minded and focused fully on what I wanted to do. That was to play NRL and that was my goal for a long time. It was awesome to be able to achieve that this year."
Cullen's taste of the big time has left the hardworking half wanting more.
He says he is honoured to captain his state and would love to get another crack in the NRL.
"I am really honoured to captain Queensland. I've been in and around a few Queensland camps before but to be captain is really special. I can't wait for the game," he said.
"My goals for the rest of the year are to play as much first grade as I can and take Burleigh as far I can. Hopefully we can get a premiership because that's always the ultimate goal.
"Right now I'm focusing on this weekend and doing the best job I can for Queensland."
After Sunday's game it will be back to the training paddock to try and impress Titans coach Neil Henry.
Cullen, a former Brisbane Broncos under-20s player, says he owes a lot to Henry and the opportunity the experienced coach has given him.
"Neil Henry has been awesome for me," he said.
"I came into the club on a train and trial and Neil made sure there was no pressure on me.
"I learnt a lot and felt really comfortable. All the boys there have been really great for me so I think the Titans really helped me."