Parramatta coach Brad Arthur had a simple edict for an untested Maika Sivo in the pre-season.
"He said just run the ball and then score tries ... So far, so good," said Sivo.
Great, in fact.
The Fijian winger bagged his first career hat-trick in a 32-16 victory against Manly at Bankwest Stadium on Friday to reach a competition-best 20 four-pointers for the season.
Having overtaken Latrell Mitchell (18), only Warriors flyer Ken Maumalo could usurp the hulking Parramatta rookie with a highly unlikely four-try haul against Canberra.
Remarkably, Sivo completed just half of the Eels' pre-season training after a shoulder reconstruction.
Arthur believes the 25-year-old - who didn't know all rugby league's rules before this year - will be even more potent in 2020 with a full summer's NRL training to lean on.
"We're hoping he knuckles down next pre-season and gets himself fitter for the week-to-week competition," Arthur said.
Match: Eels v Sea Eagles
Round 25 -
Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Sydney
- LIVE PASS
"Pre-seasons are really important and … if he wants to take his game to the next level, that's where he'll be.
"Good luck to him. If you told him [a year ago] he'd be playing a final at Bankwest next week he would have thought we were telling him fibs."
Sivo concurred that he's far from the finished product, saying: "I've still got heaps to learn."
Parramatta jumped the Sea Eagles into fifth place with the 16-point win at their home stadium, booking a match-up with eighth spot – either Brisbane, Cronulla or Wests Tigers.
The Eels raced to a 16-2 lead at half-time but were tested by a gallant and undermanned Manly outfit in the second term before kicking away.
Arthur said his men can't afford to doubt their ability or they'll be out the back door in the finals.
"There's plenty to like; there's also plenty to be disappointed about too," Arthur said.
"Now it's a whole new ballgame and I think if we play that way – the way we played tonight – I don't know if that's going to be good enough.
"I just would like us to back ourselves. At the stage when they had 12 men [after Martin Taupau was sin-binned for a high tackle], we just needed to be positive and believe in our ability."
But having finished last in 2018, Arthur is understandably pleased with the marked improvement this year.
"I'm proud of the boys, I'm proud of the staff. We're happy that we've finished fifth – I think it's a pretty good achievement from where we've come from," he said.
Arthur said forward Ray Stone had been cleared of a serious injury by the team doctor after he was knocked out and stretchered from the field on a medicab following Taupau's shot.
While Manly look like being without the big prop due to suspension, Eels prop Kane Evans is also in danger of missing next week after he was sin-binned and placed on report for a high tackle on Brad Parker.
However, Arthur is confident Evans will be cleared.
"I think he's okay actually," he said.
"I'd need to have another good look but I thought it was okay."
The situation is sudden death for the Eels from here on out but Arthur holds hope they could lift the Provan-Summons Trophy on grand final night.
"Whether you finish first or eighth, on our day we can play some really good football so we need to make sure we focus on whoever we play next week but putting in an 80 minutes that we can be proud of," he said.