South Sydney fullback Latrell Mitchell can only laugh thinking back to this time last year when plenty in rugby league land were questioning whether he'd make it as an NRL fullback.
Mitchell's ball-playing from the back accelerated out of sight as 2020 wore on with an untimely and unlucky hamstring injury stopping him right as he was heating up a month out from the finals.
Any doubts over how long it would take Mitchell to return to that sort of form were silenced on Saturday night as the 23-year-old delivered a 40-minute clinic against a below-par Dragons outfit, notching three try assists and a try in the opening 40 minutes before earning an early shower.
Mitchell said while he was still a work in progress as an NRL fullback, he always expected to succeed in the position.
"It's still going to take me a long time to get used to the position but I'm really enjoying it," he said.
Match Highlights: Dragons v Rabbitohs
"I've always been a fullback, to be honest. Through juniors I never played centre.
"I was five-eighth in the juniors before I came down to Sydney then I was straight into fullback. It's nothing new to me. It's just the workload, I've got to get used to it and training it and [the Charity Shield] was a good example of it.
"I'm really getting a lot out of it. Wayne [Bennett] has helped and the coaching staff have helped me a lot.
Latrell lays it on for Paulo
"I've got a lot to work on. NRL's a different game to SG Ball and 20s and what-not. It comes with the coaching and video. Wayne's worked really hard with me, I'm taking it all in, soaking it all up and enjoying it."
The nasty hamstring rupture which ended his 2020 season in round 16 had not been a factor at training for a long time, he added.
"Yeah, I've been going since November. I think I heal pretty quick, they say Kooris heal quick!" he laughed.
"It's good. I'm training really well which got me prepped for this game.
"I'm really keen for the week off then straight into round one."
The 48-16 result sounded an ominous warning to the rest of the competition and Mitchell agreed there was a positive feeling around the club, one of the top contenders for the trophy.
What will be the result in this Telstra Premiership clash?
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"It comes a lot through Wayne; he's setting a good example with his coaching," Mitchell said.
"He threw in the Queensland job which gives us an indication that he's all in with us.
"It's great for us, we get a lot of confidence out of it. He enjoys coming to training, we love going to training and that's what it's all about. It's about us working together and enjoying ourselves."