South Sydney back-rower Angus Crichton has defended his early season form, arguing his hard work had gone unnoticed by everyone but his teammates.
A vocal advocate of indigenous culture who has spent the last several off-seasons working in remote Aboriginal communities, it was fitting the 22-year-old's season came alight during the NRL's Indigenous Round.
Crichton was arguably best on ground in South's 24-10 upset of ladder leaders St George Illawarra at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
After showing great desperation to crawl across the line for Souths' second try in just the seventh minute, he was a constant threat all day on the right edge, finishing with 188 metres and two linebreaks.
After a breakout 2017, he was expected to push for representative selection in 2018.
Instead, it was widely considered that Crichton had gone off the boil.
However, he defended his performances in the first nine weeks.
He argued that he'd rolled the sleeves up and been making the difficult, thankless metres coming out of his side's danger zone, something he hadn't done as much during his first two seasons.
"So far this season I've taken a lot of tough carries out of our end, a lot of the work the fans and stats don't really see," Crichton said.
"The players see that.
"So tonight it shifted a little bit, I got a little bit of open pasture, I got to pin the ears back a few times which was good. It only took me 10 rounds."
Crichton said he was very much up for Indigenous Round, which was one of his favourite events on the rugby league calendar.
For the last few years Crichton has mentored two young men from Arnhem Land, in north eastern Nothern Territory.
Crichton met Delwyn and Leon Wunungmurra while boarding at Scots College and took them under his wing as they attempted to adjust to life in Sydney.
Once every year he flies up to work in their community and is passionate about spreading knowledge about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
"The two boys I've been mentoring are both back home in Arnhem Land, I spoke to both of them last week, they're both doing well," Crichton said.
"One of them's hoping to come down to Sydney next year for his apprenticeship.
"I think it's a really good chance to bring awareness to indigenous culture, which is essentially Australian culture.
"Shedding light and closing the gap between indigenous culture and white Australian culture is a big one because it's our past, for all of us."