HE copped plenty of flak at the time, but Sea Eagles flyer Jason Saab has had no reason to doubt his shift from the Dragons to the Northern Beaches.
Saab has emerged as a cult figure for the Brookvale faithful, grabbing 23 tries in 24 games and staking a compelling claim to the 'fastest man in league' title.
He's now preparing for his first finals appearance in Friday's top-four showdown with premiership favourites Melbourne.
The Sea Eagles joy is most certainly the Dragons' pain, at least for fans who saw his emergence in 2019, grabbing two tries on debut in round 19 of that season.
Three more first grade outings, not too mention the astounding physical attributes, were enough for the club to sign him to a three-year contract.
He added just four appearances in 2020 amid rumours he wanted out of the club just a year into his deal, citing the commute from his home in Merrylands to Wollongong.
It was greeted with skepticism from red v fans when he was linked to Manly and a daily trip Narrabeen, with the 20-year-old admitting the noise was tough to handle as a teenager.
"It was a very daunting process, only being in first grade for about year and [the talk] was getting pretty full on," Saab said.
"It was a big decision to make and a big process to go through. I had people around me to give me an outside perspective on what could happen, what can't happen, leaving or staying, all that sort of thing.
"At the end of the day I just made sure, whatever decision I made, I was fully committed to it."
The circumstances of the shift brought added pressure to make the move a success, something he definitely felt early on.
"Of course there was a bit of pressure to perform because I just wanted to do well and shut the naysayers up," he said.
"The club worked very hard to get me here and put a lot of faith in me. Anyone who's had a lot of faith put in them, they obviously know they have a job to do.
"I had a shaky start so that probably represents the pressure [that was there]. I guess, 25 rounds in, I got there in the end.
"It's been awesome to grow as a player and a person with this group of boys. I'm here now and grateful that's how it's played out."
The shaky start came on the personal and team front, with coach Des Hasler under the pump after four straight losses to start the year.
Saab also had some teething issues, grabbing just the one try in five rounds as he struggled to find his feet.
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The return of Tom Trbojevic, who's in a purple patch of form rarely seen in the game's history, played a major part in turning those fortunes around.
Saab's been a major beneficiary, grabbing 21 of his 22 tries in the 15 games Trbojevic has featured in, while fellow Dragons junior Reuben Garrick has bagged 21 tries and a record 304 regular-season points.
With Trbojevic's 25 four-pointers, Saab is a member of one of the most prolific back threes the game has seen.
"I definitely was struggling at the start of the season and had big improvements to make," Saab said.
"From round four to now, in the blink of an eye, it's gone. It's been a bit surreal. We had a shaky start and we just hung in there together and stuck it out.
"Having Turbo at the back definitely helps. He's got about a thousand try assists and a thousand tries so he's obviously helped in that area.
"Obviously me and Reubs came in knowing we had to have a good season and we've really worked on our game as well. We've really trained hard every week.
"We've competed against each other a lot and, 25 rounds later, we're here and it's all paid off. We're four weeks off doing what we came here to do."