Six months ago an emotional Josh Dugan stood in front of a packed media conference and choked back tears as the stress of a draining year on and off the field finally caught up with him.
The 28-year-old declared he was an "easy target" for the media during a press conference last September ahead of Cronulla's semi-final win over Penrith, where he was later ruled out with a shoulder injury.
The raw and confronting interview evoked mixed reactions but Dugan was applauded by many for his honesty.
On Tuesday, as he fronted the media for the first time since that interview, Dugan said speaking out was not a decision he made lightly.
"I'd been avoiding it for about a month or so and it was always in the back of my head," Dugan said.
Dugan opens up on month in health retreat
"Being able to get it off my chest and move on from it was the biggest thing.
"Not only that but to be able to bring to light some of the things I wanted to say –not just for me but a lot of other players in the competition that do a lot of [good] stuff out of footy.
"It's not just 'footy, footy, footy' for us. We do a lot of stuff in our own time in the community that doesn't get spoken about as much as it should.
"Sometimes it feels like one negative outdoes the 10 good things that players do."
Dugan enters the 2019 season determined to have a bigger impact than his body allowed him to last year when he managed just 14 appearances for the Sharks.
Moylan relishing return to fullback
"I was able to move on and find avenues outside of footy that I can go to now rather than dwelling on what happened last year and injuries or form," Dugan said.
"I've been able to come in pretty fresh after holidays and I've been working hard on my shoulder and getting back to 100 per cent fitness with Moyza [Matt Moylan] and Jayson Bukuya."
Being able to get it off my chest and move on from it was the biggest thingJosh Dugan
Dugan confirmed he'll return to the field in Saturday night's trial against Newcastle in Maitland and is excited at what Shaun Johnson's arrival on the right edge can do for his game.
"Just training with him you can see how sharp he is on his feet," Dugan said.
"I've known for years how good he is playing against him at the Warriors and the Kiwis. You're always on alert when he's got the ball and skipping across and putting his mad feet on.
"We did lose a bit with Val but bringing in SJ made up for that ten-fold. We're going to be a dangerous side on both edges this year and Moyza at the back as well.
"It's only going to make our team better and if we can put it together we'll go a long way this year."