George Williams didn't have to wait long after signing with Canberra to be told that English halves and backs aren't cut out for the NRL
"As soon as I signed up last year people messaged me saying you're not going to make it," Williams said.
Historically, the naysayers had every reason to believe they were right.
It's been 44 years since an English half made the switch from the UK competition to guide an Australian team to a premiership.
That was Gary Stephens at Manly, in 1976.
Since then Gareth Widdop has lifted the Provan-Summons trophy at Melbourne in 2012, but he came through NRL systems before making his first grade debut in Australia.
And in the NRL era that has spread across the entire backline.
While the English forwards have prospered in Australia, the backs have floundered.
"I'm not too sure why it is," Williams told AAP.
"It's obviously something that has been spoken about a few times.
"(Those messages) were just as a laugh. But if anything it gave you that little bit more hunger to succeed."
However, those who know Williams are not surprised he is close to ending that drought in his maiden NRL campaign year, with only Melbourne on Friday night standing between Canberra and a second successive grand final.
The 25-year-old Test half had long thought about challenging himself in the NRL, before approaching Wigan coach Adrian Lam last year with two seasons still to run on his contract.
Lam, a former Sydney Roosters and Queensland playmaker, knew Williams' potential and didn't want to stand in his way.
And crucially, he believed his defence would set him apart from others who had gone to Australia and failed.
"He is a talented player but what underpins him is his competitiveness," Lam said.
"His defence is as good as it gets for any No.7 or No.6 in the competition.
"Going to the NRL, the minute you show weakness they just run at you 100mph.
"I knew that would be no problem for him because if you're a tough defender, you're tough all around the world."
Williams puts his defensive resilience down to his early days as a hooker at Wigan.
"Physically that helped me get back to the bigger bodies," Williams said.
"And then I went back to halfback and it was a breeze."
It's shown in the NRL, maintaining the best tackle efficiency rate of any regular halfback at 87 per cent.
Lam was also insistent that Williams embrace living in Australia to succeed, knowing too well that the second he became homesick it could fall apart.
"The key for him was to go there as a tourist," Lam said.
"To have no regrets, I said 'don't be coming back in 12 months saying I stuffed up. Go on your terms and make sure you take your opportunities'."
COVID has stunted that approach, but the five-strong contingent of Englishmen in the Raiders side has ensured they've stuck together through the lockdown.
But Williams has also spent his time embracing the Raiders culture.
While coach Ricky Stuart went to school on Williams' history and what makes him tick via a beer with his old man, Williams was tested on the Raiders' history.
"It was pretty embarrassing at first when I didn't know the answers," Williams said.
"It was nothing too serious but just stuff like who has been here before, when they won premierships and were in grand finals.
"But the more things you do you learn, it helps. It's pretty cool."
Now, there is every chance he can become part of that history.
His attack, and the all-important combination with Jack Wighton is firing at the right time, as evidenced in the first two weeks of the finals.
Lam and now Stuart have Williams playing both sides of the ruck in a role that complements Wighton, while the halfback's speed has always been an asset.
He picks his time to run the ball as well as any other No.7 in the NRL and, while there were big games here and there early, he and Wighton are now regularly linking.
"We have found that (balance) now, we're both pretty clear on what each of us like and what each of us don't like," Williams said.
"We're only 20 games together, others are 100-plus in. It keeps building and hopefully it's not finished yet."