Debutant Blues hooker Nathan Peats is hoping to get through 80 minutes on Wednesday night in what he says will no doubt be the toughest game he has ever played – but he's not convinced he'd even be there had he not been forced out of Parramatta last season.
The tumultuous period, which saw the passionate blue-and-gold hooker forced out to join the Titans after becoming the fall guy for the sins of the club's now-deregistered administrators' rorting of the salary cap, could have derailed Peats.
Instead it made him stronger and helped evolve his game.
"It feels like maybe I mightn't have made it if I didn't leave… It's funny how the world works," Peats said.
"Everything happens for a reason... I believe I was playing all right footy [at Parra]. I've always been in the [Origin frame] the last couple of years but I've changed my style a bit since I've been at the Titans. I've changed a bit in attack.
"I'm kicking the ball a lot more and offering a bit more I think. At Parramatta I was that harder style player just trying to whack people and [provide] early service.
"I'm still that player but I'm a lot more confident since I got up [to the Titans]. I don't know if that made a difference in me getting picked or not."
Peats's ejection from Parramatta seemed all the more rough given what he put his body through for the club.
He made a habit of ignoring self-preservation to inspire teammates. He once played on after fracturing a vertebra and also memorably dislocated an elbow trying to swing a hard low tackle on runaway Cowboys lock Jason Taumalolo.
There are plenty of other examples of Peats's toughness but, speaking to media from Blues camp in Kingscliff, a more sensitive side was on show as Peats recalled choking up addressing teammates and telling them what this debut means for him and his family.
Even though I won't make it and I'm fine with that, I would love and give anything just to play one game of origin for NSW... #bleedblue4eva— Nathan Peats (@nathanpeats9) July 4, 2012
"My first dream was to play first grade and I achieved that and this is my next big step and obviously to win a grand final is the last one remaining now. I'm going to give it everything I've got next week.
"I love Origin and always have since I was a kid. I'm nervous but I'm excited at the same time."
Peats recalled his emotional address to teammates and why it all caught up with him at the time.
"Origin means a hell of a lot to me. This is what I've been working hard for my whole career and putting my family through a lot of stuff, especially my partner," Peats said.
"All the injuries and form, when I was at Souths being in and out of first grade, they've been by my side the whole time. People think footy players are invincible but without a good support system at home, I probably wouldn't be where I am today.
"I think that all got the best of me and got me a bit choked up because I know how much it means to me and I know how much it means to them too so I want to make them proud and I guess it got me."
It was also special telling his father, former Rabbitohs and Bulldogs first grader Geordi Peats.
"They're pretty happy for me as every parent would be for a player who makes Origin. He knows how hard I've worked and I've had a whirlwind 18 months with the Parramatta thing and coming up to the Titans. If I looked back then I probably thought I never was going to play Origin.
"My family has been through it all with me. Not just injuries but leaving a club, being told you're going to lose 12 points last year – it was a build-up and I guess that's why it got the best of me the other day."
Peats is adamant he was unfazed by a hectic team announcement that saw Penrith's Peter Wallace preferred as Blues hooker before being quickly ruled out with a groin strain, leaving Peats to make his long-awaited debut.
"I'm a big believe in fate. I wasn't stressing about it. If I play, I play, if he's out, he's out. I wasn't praying for him to not play or anything like that," Peats said.
"Thankfully for me it worked out all right for me [but it was] unfortunate for him. That's footy sometimes, isn't it? We've all been through it."
When it comes to Wednesday night, Peats is expecting that as a player making his debut in the middle of the field he will be tested like never before by a ferocious Queensland side.
"It's going to be a tough one. I'm preparing for the toughest game of my life," Peats said.
"I've only played in a few finals games, I've never played in an NRL grand final but I'm sure it's that sort of level and a little bit more.
"I'm preparing for the toughest night of my life. I think that's the way I've got to approach it because I've never been there before."