A niggling hip-pointer injury disrupted Corey Harawira-Naera's pre-season, but the Canberra Raiders second-rower's put that behind him to hit top form and become an offloading machine.
The New Zealand international has to choose his offloads wisely after revealing Canberra coach Ricky Stuart wasn't a fan of them.
The 26-year-old also felt being able to build combinations on the right edge played a role in his recent form, having played the past 11 games for the Green Machine.
Harawira-Naera's been one of the Raiders' best this season - especially over the past few month - culminating in his efforts in the win over the Cronulla Sharks on the Gold Coast on Saturday.
He said that win wouldn't mean anything if they didn't continue to back it up, starting with the Parramatta Eels on Thursday night.
The second-rower not only ran for 137 metres, but made six offloads and 11 tackle busts - with one of those offloads leading to Jordan Rapana's opening try.
But he struggled with injury during the pre-season and didn't come into Raiders team until round seven.
"I missed out on a chunk of pre-season so I feel like it took me a while to get my lungs and my legs, and get used to the system as well," Harawira-Naera said.
"Probably just the confidence of putting a bit of a combination with who we have on the edge.
"We had a bit of a change when [George Williams] went out, but me and Sammy [Williams] have played a few more games now, which makes it a lot easier to get used to each other's games both sides of the ball.
"Sebby [Kris] has been playing well, obviously 'Rappy' you can count on him to do his job ... you've got to be comfortable with the people around you to give you that foundation to play off."
MORE RAIDERS NEWS
Harawira-Naera felt Raiders co-captain and fellow second-rower Elliott Whitehead was still a week away from returning from a shoulder injury.
That will see the Kiwi continue to partner Hudson Young in the second row.
The five-day turnaround played a role in that call with plenty of recovery in the pool and in ice baths on the menu, especially early in the week.
Harawira-Naera said there would be limited field time with the emphasis in ensuring they were mentally ready to tackle the fourth-placed Eels.
The Raiders have lost their past three games against Parramatta, including a 35-10 loss at Canberra Stadium in round six.
"A lot of the game plan this week is going to be around being mentally ready because we aren't going to be able to get on the field as much as we wanted," Harawira-Naera said.
"We'll take momentum out of the last few games, but it's a massive step up in competition this week."
The likeable Kiwi said they needed to build momentum going into the finals.
After a tough three months, the Raiders were just points differential outside the top eight - level on premiership points with the eighth-placed Sharks.
Having had back-to-back wins for just the second time this season, Harawira-Naera said it was important to continue their winning form over the final seven rounds.
"You want momentum going into finals and to know that you're playing good footy," he said.
"You don't want to rely on earlier wins in the year and then you've got to try and find form for finals.
"If there's ever a time to do it we need to go on a run now.
"Obviously after Parra we've got a bunch of other sides that are battling it out to get in the eight. The next month of footy's going to be really important to us."
NRL ROUND 19
Thursday: Canberra Raiders v Parramatta Eels at the Gold Coast, 7.50pm.