Year after year the unwitting victim of NSW's selection squeeze, Trent Merrin described his omission from two series-deciding clashes as "all worth it" after toasting the Blues' drought-breaking Origin success.
For all the stories of perseverance and persistence flowing through NSW's new rugby league heroes, perhaps none had to take their knocks quite like Merrin.
The St George Illawarra back-rower was Ricky Stuart's fall guy for game three in the 2011 and 2012 series but was finally rewarded with a permanent role in Laurie Daley's streak stoppers in 2014.
"I've been here for a few years and there's been some downs, but it's all worth it," Merrin said. "That's what all the down times are for, you learn from them, you come together and you work twice as hard.
"I'm so proud and so happy and words can't describe it. I wouldn't have done it without my family and my friends.
"It's been a long time coming and a lot of credit goes to them. As a group we enjoy this, but if you break it down it's all about the way you're brought up and the people you surround yourself with."
Those in the crowd to watch NSW's gripping 6-4 triumph over the Maroons at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday were his mother and the parents of his girlfriend, world surfing star Sally Fitzgibbons.
Quizzed on what it felt like to do a Queensland on Queensland with a late rally, Merrin fired back: "We did a NSW on Queensland. This is the new NSW and this is what we'll be taken for. We'd taken so much confidence [out of game one] and to get bashed and bashed and bashed year in and year out, something's always going to come positive from it.
"You stick solid to it, you work on it and work on it and it goes to show if you keep working hard something's going to come good out of it."
One of the first to greet Merrin in the change rooms after NSW's win was good mate Alex McKinnon - the pair embraced as the injured Newcastle Knight made a rare public appearance after his spinal injury earlier this year.
The hugs were also reserved for the Morris boys, whose courage to soldier on with long-term injuries in game one wasn't forgotten by those who took the field in Sydney.
"We wouldn't be celebrating if it wasn't for the Morris boys," he said. "The efforts they produced in game one gave us the opportunity to win. When I hugged them after the game I said, 'you got us here, boys'.
"I love them and we wouldn't be on this high [but] for the Morris boys ... they're so much a part of this."
He's expected to back up for St George Illawarra in their crucial clash with the Gold Coast - and NSW teammate Greg Bird - at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday.