Rookie Knights winger Dom Young has started the year with a bang, forming a devastating right-edge combination with the returning Dane Gagai and cashing in on some tough lessons from his rookie year.
Still just 20, Young came in for more than his share of criticism through his six starts last season despite obvious raw potential.
One game into 2022, that potential may already be starting to blossom as Young registered a try, try save, two line-breaks and 124 run metres in an upset of likely heavyweights the Roosters.
"It's just having that full pre-season under my belt; I feel a lot fitter than I did last year," Young said.
"It definitely feels good. We worked really hard in the pre-season. It's good to get that out in the pitch in round one, it's a good start.
"Definitely having that year under my belt going into the season has definitely helped me as well. I'm looking forward to what we can do this year."
Dom Young holds firm
While tough, 2021 was a good lesson in what to expect from the NRL, according to Young.
"I'm kind of used to it now, there's no surprises, nothing new. I feel like I know what I need to do and what everyone expects from me now so I just focus on that."
His impressive round one efforts weren't lost on his coach Adam O'Brien.
"I'm really, really happy for Dom," O'Brien said.
"I feel like he's sort of arrived now. We underestimated when he moved out here last year, I think we all did, players as well, he hadn't played a lot against adults.
"He played kids and obviously dominated. As I've said numerous times, he moved out here as a really young guy and I thought it shocked him, the pre-season. But this year is a complete 180.
"He's thrived and there's no secret he had a strong pre-season. I know it's only one game but I'm really happy for him."
At 200 centimetres and 107 kilograms, Young is an imposing presence on the flank and he admitted those raw physical traits were something he needed to take advantage of.
"I think it's my physical attributes that are helping me at the minute; I'm just trying to showcase that every week," he said.
The recent history of English backs struggling to have the same impact in the NRL as their forwards counterparts is not lost on Young.
"I want to stop that trend of outside backs coming over and struggling, I want to be playing every week, I want to be impressing," he added.
"I guess I learned (last year) how the game's played over here. Obviously it's a lot different. I just learned what it took to be at this level, the demands on the field and off the field."
Gagai scores on his return to the Knights
Other than the improved preparation, something that has really helped Young so far this year is being paired on an edge with rep centre Dane Gagai, who was arguably best on ground in Saturday's 20-6 win over the Roosters.
"Gags is talking to me all game, he's helping me all the time," Young said.
"Having that experience inside you is obviously helping me, I love playing with him. Me and Gags have a good combination at the minute at training and in the game so I'm happy there.
"It's been a big focus for me defensively, defending those shapes. Having Gags there, always talking to my inside and helping me out, I thought we defended well. He's definitely helped me and my understanding's got better as well. He's real good for me and making me feel a lot better."