Missing last year's NRL grand final is driving Hudson Young and the Canberra Raiders forward hopes his extra pre-season will help him get back there.
Young produced his best NRL game in the Raiders' 37-8 victory over St George Illawarra on Saturday.
He scored a try, set one up for John Bateman, made two line breaks, ran for 203 metres, had two tackle busts and made 39 tackles - all in about 60 minutes of work.
Young was happy with how he dealt with the fatigue, as Raiders coach Ricky Stuart had the luxury of resting Josh Papalii in the second half.
Suspension meant Young missed last year's finals series and the opening five rounds of 2020 as well.
With the coronavirus pandemic, that meant he had more than nine months between games.
But it allowed him to do extra fitness and he's hoping that negative can turn into a positive at the back end of this campaign.
He'll be relatively fresh as the Green Machine prepares for back-to-back finals series.
This time he's determined to be there.
He's brought versatility to the Raiders' forward pack - having covered Bateman in the second row while he was out with a shoulder injury - and now slotting into a middle that's been beset with injuries.
"Obviously missing one last year that's always going to eat at me until we win one here at the Raiders," Young said.
"Doing an extra pre-season than everyone else made me a bit fitter and stronger. [I] just had to change my mindset and do all the right things."
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The 22-year-old has put last year's suspensions behind him - two totalling 13 games for making dangerous contact with a player's eyes.
He let the first incident get to him, but he's managed to move on and is determined there won't be a third occurrence.
"That's probably where I went wrong last year when I got it wrong the first time," Young said.
"I just kept sweating on it. But I don't even think about it anymore. I know that's not part of me and in my game so I don't even think about that anymore."
On top of it all, Young had an unfortunate training mishap during pre-season.
He tripped over Raiders assistant coach Brett White, who was refereeing a scrimmage.
It meant the COVID-19 shutdown again helped Young, who spent the next 14 weeks doing rehabilitation on his knee.
If it wasn't for the NRL shutting down, he would've missed a lot more football than the five weeks he was suspended for.
"Before our first trial I tripped over Whitey at training and did a bit of cartilage damage and that led to bone bruising so I think it was about 14 weeks I was in rehab," Young said.
"So COVID actually turned out to be a good thing for me ... that knee injury hung around for a while and took a bit to clear up, but it's all good now."
NRL ROUND 19
Sunday: Canberra Raiders v New Zealand Warriors at Canberra Stadium, 2pm.