Canberra Raiders star Josh Papalii took his early season dropping personally and it drove him to a second Mal Meninga Medal.
Rather than look to get his Kangaroos jersey back, the Queensland State of Origin powerhouse says a premiership with the Green Machine is what's driving him now.
Papalii finished well clear in the voting with 25 votes at the AIS Arena on Tuesday night - eight clear of runners-up Elliott Whitehead and Joe Tapine with fullback Jack Wighton fourth on 13 despite missing the final 10 games due to suspension.
The 26-year-old missed two games himself - one due to Origin duties and the other because he was dropped to the NSW Cup after the Raiders' fourth-round loss to Manly.
Papalii responded immediately and bounced straight back into the NRL after just one week out - but returned to establish himself at lock rather than in his usual spot in the second row.
He was clearly the Raiders' best over the final 20 rounds and a deserved winner of his second medal.
His first came as joint winner with Raiders gun hooker Josh Hodgson in 2016.
Papalii said he'd looked back at his omission and thought about how far he'd come since.
"Obviously with the rocky start I had to the season I'm pretty happy with how I finished it. Still just disappointed with how the team finished," he said.
"Every time I took the field this year after I got dropped I was pretty emotional. I took it pretty personally every time I took the field. I think that's why I played a lot harder than I usually do and I'm glad I did.
"I went to Elliott after the awards were done and I said, 'This was your award' and that's who I had my money on. I take this award on behalf of the team."
The softly spoken enforcer wasn't part of Meninga's Australian World Cup squad last year, playing for Samoa instead.
His form this season, both for the Raiders and the Maroons, has him a near certain selection for the post-season Tests against New Zealand and Tonga.
But rather than looking to win that jersey back, Papalii's focus - apart from his upcoming wedding to fiancee Masepa Selesa - was on helping the Green Machine end a 24-year premiership drought.
"It's a premiership with the team and with the boys I love so much. I got a bit emotional in saying goodbye to three other players and also the staff that are going as well," Papalii said.
"I guess a premiership would be nice, but obviously that takes a lot of hard work and dedication.
"I'm not really striving to get any jersey back, to be honest. I think just keeping myself motivated for next year and doing a full pre-season is probably the top thing on my list, besides the wedding as well.
"That's the most important thing for myself is to come back fit and be the best I can be for the boys next year."
Papalii credited Selesa as the rock behind his strong form.
His wife-to-be has made him happy off the field and that in turn has led to him being happy on it.
Papalii said she'd also been important during a gruelling Origin period.
"I think I was more happy off field than what I usually am. A lot of credit goes to my partner, which she doesn't get a lot of accolades for," he said.
"She kept me very happy off the field and it kept the on field form going for so long.
"Very important [to have her support] ... the real sacrifice is my partner going up early just to watch an Origin game and that's who I do it for, my kids."