Mitchell Pearce has learned a thing or two about appreciating finals football in his three years at Newcastle.
Once a regular fixture in September at the Sydney Roosters, Pearce has spent the last two series watching on while leading a fight to rebuild Newcastle.
It's been a point not lost on Pearce in a busy week that included three hours in front of a laptop for the NRL's virtual finals launch and a socially distanced Newcastle fan day.
"Even sitting on the computer, it's all part of the build-up," Pearce said.
"You do appreciate it more. It's a privilege to be playing in the finals.
"With all the work that has gone into the club up here over the past three years. Attracting players and finding your culture and mojo as a team.
"To get these opportunities it is an honour and you have to make the most of it."
Pearce, of course, was bemoaned by some for his decision to head to the Knights at the end of 2017.
Feeling the need for change when the Roosters brought in Cooper Cronk, Pearce joined a club in need of a saviour after three straight wooden spoons.
His move prompted the likes of Paul Gallen to question his representative future, a point Pearce proved wrong last year when he finally lifted the State of Origin Shield.
And on Sunday, he at last gets his chance in the finals with the Knights against South Sydney.
"The club obviously signs marquee players as they call it, to get success," Pearce said.
"Your goal is to push up the ladder and hold that trophy, that's what everyone gets signed to do.
"It's just been a great ride, especially this year with (coach) Adam (O'Brien) coming on board.
"Seeing the different culture shifts the past few years while I have been here."
The critics have been there again though this week, questioning if the Knights have the mettle to go past week one.
On the same night Souths flogged the Sydney Roosters 60-8 last Friday, Newcastle were embarrassed 36-6 by Gold Coast.
But what Pearce says is different about the Knights side to ones gone by is their ability to bounce back.
While Newcastle strung long streaks of wins and losses last year, they have had back-to-back defeats just once this year.
Consistency is now the bigger issue, and whether a side filled with potential can do it for four weeks straight.
"We've been a really good side bouncing back from setbacks this year and they are things you draw on in big games," Pearce said.
"But we want to develop into a side that is winning every week and is steely every week."
Australian Associated Press