Roosters coach Trent Robinson says Latrell Mitchell's response to his early-season demotion to reserve grade was as good and as professional as any player he has seen in that situation.
The Roosters, and Mitchell, are currently reaping the rewards of a bit of tough love from Robinson after the centre struggled in a Round 6 loss to the Broncos; Mitchell returned to the top grade after three games for Wyong in the Intrust Super Premiership and has gone from strength to strength since, producing a match-winning play against the Broncos two weeks ago.
Speaking ahead of his team's Saturday night preliminary final against the Cowboys at Allianz Stadium, Robinson said Mitchell was rightly applauded for that game-winning try but added the youngster took that praise – much like his early-season demotion – in his stride.
"He's ramped up his game really well over the last couple of months," Robinson said.
"He knows the work that goes into playing and then he knows that he can produce those moments when it comes time and that's the beauty about learning for a young player. He's learned well and he's learned quicker than most."
Robinson hadn't noted any nerves out if Mitchell leading into what will be the biggest game of his career so far.
"He was built to play these games," Robinson said.
"The occasion is a big one but the actions [the players] are going to get asked to do haven't changed from last week or the week before."
That early-season spell in reserve grade was all part of Mitchell's long-term development, Robinson said.
"He handled it really well. It was pretty annoying the speculation around about the reasons why. It was a simple process, coaching and playing. We've always been pretty good," he said.
"He went back, worked hard, learned his lesson, came back in and added bits to his game and that's why we've seen him develop as a player.
"He was like 'OK, I'll go back and work on what I need to'."
While Mitchell's inner fire told him he was better than playing reserve grade, he also knew it was for a reason, Robinson added.
"That was as professional as I've ever seen a guy whether he was 19 or 20 or whether he was 30 or 32.
"It doesn't matter what year it was, [Mitchell] has handled it as well as anybody. And now there's more external pressure. It didn't change him… That's why he is the player that he is."