About to play his 50th NRL game for Melbourne, Jahrome Hughes is starting to believe what everyone around him has long known - how good he is.
Hughes will line up at halfback against Canterbury on Saturday afternoon at Sunshine Coast Stadium, with his mini milestone eight years in the making.
The Kiwi made his NRL debut for Gold Coast back in 2013 but didn't play another match until a sole appearance for North Queensland in 2016 before he moved to Melbourne the following season.
Stuck behind superstar Billy Slater, the then-fullback was drip-fed games until last year when he played 24, reaching 50 NRL games two matches ago, and now a half-ton with the Storm.
"I'm proud that I've made the 50 as I never thought I would, playing one game back in 2013 and not playing again for a few years," said Hughes, who has also played three Tests.
"I didn't think I'd actually be playing for Melbourne with the calibre of players that they had.
"I was just coming down to try and learn a few things from Craig (Bellamy) and the players."
Looking for Hughes to step up against the Bulldogs with injured skipper Cameron Smith and rested fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen missing from the Storm spine, Bellamy said Hughes continued to grow in the halfback role.
"He's a talented kid, Jahrome, but think he lacked a bit of belief in himself," Bellamy said.
"He's just starting to believe now - the big thing for him was to get the confidence of the players around him and he probably doubted that."
"The players love playing with him so he's on his way to a long career as a halfback in the NRL."
Prop Jesse Bromwich will lead Melbourne in the absence of Smith, and try to extend their six-game winning streak.
He felt the Bulldogs were better than their last-placed ladder position suggested and they are the only NRL team with a winning record against the Storm - 51 per cent.
"We try to look past where they are on the ladder," Bromwich said.
"They always stay in the fight and they have a great forwards pack so it's a big ask for your forwards."
STATS THAT MATTER
* The last time Storm skipper Smith missed a game was in round 11, 2018, having played 55 consecutive games since.
* After losing six straight from 2013-16, the Storm have now won four straight games against the Bulldogs.
* Since round 10, the Bulldogs have the second best completion rate and the fewest errors in the competition.
Australian Associated Press