It took a couple of rugby league's most revered men to finally convince Jahrome Hughes of his NRL worth, but his story is par for the course in Melbourne.
Once again the Storm will charge into the season's final - against Penrith on Sunday - led by a series of key figures in their spine.
But this year there is no Cooper Cronk in the No.7 jersey and no Billy Slater at fullback. Instead it is makeshift halfback Hughes at his third club and up-and-coming No.1 Ryan Papenhuyzen.
With Cameron Smith tossing up his future and Cameron Munster hampered by a knee injury at various times this season, the pair are the latest unearthed gems to propel the club to a grand final - their fourth in the last five years.
It was former fullback Hughes who set the tone against Canberra on Friday night, tearing the Raiders apart as Melbourne scored three tries inside the first 10 minutes.
"I made a big thing before this game that I wanted to go in confident and Craig was into me all week saying 'back yourself'," he told AAP.
"I have come from a couple of clubs and found my spot here but there wasn't really one moment when the penny dropped.
"You can hear it (praise and encouragement) from other people, but when you hear it from Cameron Smith and Craig Bellamy ... I look up to those guys so much.
"And in a good Melbourne Storm team I knew I had to step up and change my ways there, so it was good to have a full preseason (at No.6)."
New Zealand-born Hughes went to school on the Gold Coast and played just one NRL game for both the Titans and North Queensland before the Storm took a punt on him.
Papenhuyzen played under-20s for Wests Tigers before Melbourne signed him and, after dominating for their Queensland Cup feeder team on the Sunshine Coast, is now on the cusp of wearing the NSW No.1 jersey next month.
"I can't remember the club signing any sort of representative player over the last half-dozen years," Cameron Smith said.
"We've lost some of the greatest players to ever play our game and replaced them with kids, and now look where they are - playing on the greatest stage next week.
"They haven't fluked it, they've worked hard and ... that's what I've really enjoyed (this season), watching the Papenhuyzens and Hugheses come through and now they get their shot."
Australian Associated Press