Daniel Saifiti deleted Facebook after being picked for NSW last year, anticipating that people would question whether he was ready to play State of Origin.
But now, after being one of the most impressive Blues forwards this series, there is little doubt about the 24-year-old's position in the team.
He admits it's been "a bit sweet" to silence any detractors.
"I'm not going to lie," he told NRL.com. "But I'm more of a prove people right type of person instead of proving people wrong. I want to prove my family right for believing in me. That's the most satisfying thing."
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 3 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
The towering Newcastle prop has become an enforcer for NSW, averaging 142 metres and 28 tackles leading into Wednesday's decider at Suncorp Stadium.
It's hard to fathom given the fearless manner in which he's locked horns with Queensland's forward pack, but a younger Saifiti was somewhat hesitant to use his imposing frame.
"Because I was a bigger kid, I just didn't want to hurt other kids smaller than me," he said.
"As I got older and started playing first grade for The Entrance [on the NSW Central Coast], that's probably where I developed the aggression against older guys when I was 17.
Maroons v Blues - Origin III
"Now, it's just sort of natural to me. I don't have to start fights or anything like that, but I can just be aggressive in the way I run the ball and the way I tackle. In that sense, not taking a backward step."
In a way, Saifiti's journey has come full circle. Starting as a Terrigal Sharks junior before joining The Entrance, many of his football lessons came on the fields of Morry Breen Reserve in Wyong - where he reckons he would have played "a hundred times".
The Blues have been based at Morry Breen Oval throughout their camp and Saifiti has enjoyed the familiarity. He recalled winning a senior semi-final against Wyong as a 17-year-old alongside twin brother Jacob on the ground connected to where NSW have trained.
"It's weird, my family's at Wamberal 10 minutes down the road from Magenta [Shores Resort, where the Blues are staying], but it may as well be another country because I can't see them," he said.
"Magenta's a really nice hotel and resort and they're looking after us, so it makes life easier."
David Klemmer may have been overlooked by the Blues, but Saifiti has appreciated his Knights teammate's encouragement from afar.
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"We've been messaging each other throughout the series," he said.
"Obviously he's a competitor, he was disappointed not to make the squad because he's been there for so long. But he understands there was a good crop of props coming through and playing well.
"Our friendship is bigger than footy. I've got a lot of respect for Klem, he's showed me the ropes, so he's been supportive and been messaging me. [It's been] more just, 'good luck', and, 'well done'."
NSW are aiming to win their first decider in Brisbane since 2005 and much will hinge on the contest up front.
"We've got a strong forward pack and so do they. I think that's where the battle's won and lost - in the middle," Saifiti said.
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"We take it personally in the middle and me starting, I definitely want to set a good platform for the boys."
Yet to play an Origin match at Suncorp, Saifiti has been speaking with prop partner Payne Haas about what to expect.
"He said it's the craziest thing ever," Saifiti said.
"You can barely hear yourself out there and the feeling when you run out is like nothing else."
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