Life in the Parramatta's COVID bubble spurred on Dylan Brown's record recovery from syndesmosis surgery after initially being told his NRL season was over.
Brown made his comeback in Saturday's 36-24 loss to Melbourne, and this week insisted there were no lingering issues on his left ankle leading into the semi-final against South Sydney.
The Eels five-eighth completed his recovery in just five weeks, the quickest of its type in the past two years according to injury analyst Brian Seeney.
Driven by a desire to return to the field for the finals, Brown spent almost every waking moment working on the injury with little option to do anything else while in the bubble.
"It's my life and COVID has given me no option but to only do footy," Brown said.
"When it happened I was pretty disappointed, they told me I wasn't going to play again this year.
"If I'm not at training and I'm at home, I'm working on it. Just heaps of silly stuff. Even toe exercises.
"For me to come back I am pretty proud of myself and happy with the physios."
Brown was initially ruled out for up to 10 weeks when he went down against Souths in round 16, before quickly pushing back on the recovery time.
"They were telling me 8-10 weeks and I got out of the cast in four or five days," Brown said.
"And then you are at home and the physio is telling you not to walk on it but you want to get some food and you just hobble over and go 'my ankle is alright'.
"After being off for five weeks I was pretty nervous (before the return).
"But I knew I could do it. I was a bit rusty, but that game is gone so focus on this week."
Brown is now ready to defy the naysayers again this weekend on the field.
The Eels are rank outsiders against the Rabbitohs on Saturday night, despite sitting in the top four since round two and spending six weeks in first spot this year.
But critics are quick to point out they were flogged 38-0 by the Souths just six weeks ago, with winger Maika Sivo out and counterpart Blake Ferguson in doubt.
"Everyone has their own opinion on us, and the weekend just gone there were so many bad things but so many good things," Brown said.
"We believe in ourselves.
"I'm not making excuses but my edge was way different and the right edge was as well.
"We have a team that is a bit different but we will be fighting to the death. It's do or die. You don't compete the whole year just to go out the way we did last year."