Mitchell Pearce has been here before. Big occasion, big hype, big reward - and the potential of an even bigger fallout.
Cue the inevitable question: just how did the most marginalised No 7 in the game pick himself up from the depths of State of Origin despair to not miss a beat with the revitalised Roosters this year?
"I sort of get sick of people talking about it, to be honest - players are getting over losses all the time," Pearce said.
"I was obviously disappointed for about a week - as the whole squad was that lost that game. But ever since then, it's easy to come back into a good side.
"I felt like I'd been playing well, as the whole side had, throughout the year. We've got a good thing going on here and we just jumped straight back into it."
Fair point. But surely all those back-page headlines suggesting Pearce had played his last game for NSW, fuelled by his own pre-match prediction, had to take a toll?
"He has copped a lot of speculation over the time because he has been the young hope for NSW coming through," said Pearce's club coach, Trent Robinson.
"As soon as that game three had finished, Pearcy hadn't changed in our eyes.
"We were proud of the way he dealt with things and it shows great character. Different people go in different directions after series losses like that - Pearcy decided really quickly.
"We felt like we needed to support him, but Pearcy came in the next day and he was ready to go. Sometimes you think that's a bit of a high and a bit of a rebound effect and that's just going to drop off. That hasn't dropped off. He thought about it, dealt with it, copped a lot of criticism and then decided to get on the front foot and play footy. That shows great character."
Pearce has been labelled the most unsuccessful halfback in NSW history. Yet how many modern-day No 7s could dismantle the most feared ever Origin team?
But if the incumbent was looking to get one over Cooper Cronk's Queensland heir apparent, Daly Cherry-Evans, he will have no better chance than on Sunday.
The Roosters are back, with a few more street smarts than when they wilted against the Dragons in the last 40 minutes of the 2010 grand final.
Gone are the Tricolours who are just happy to be playing on the first Sunday in October, replaced by those who expect to win.
"We got to the grand final because of that style and there were some amazing games with the Wests Tigers' game in golden point and the way we carried on from there," says Robinson, a support staffer that year.
"I think it was 8-6 at half-time [in the grand final] and I think we all learnt a bit about going into the game and after half-time ... I think it was a great year and a great success for the club, but I think there were some lessons learned."
Maybe no-one has heeded them better than Pearce, 24, who seems ready at last to break the big-game curse.
"It was a completely different mindset and preparation [in 2010] to how the team feel [this time]," he said.
"Once we got to the grand final we were just happy to be there ... I think this year we feel a little bit more stable with our game plan and what we're about."