Latrell Mitchell's State of Origin journey may have ended after game one in 2019.
A distracted and out-of-sorts player amid his split with the Sydney Roosters, Mitchell was cut by NSW coach Brad Fittler after the Blues were beaten by Queensland in the series opener that year.
Some wondered if Mitchell would return to the Origin arena amid claims he was upset with Fittler.
After five games in the cold however Mitchell has made a triumphant return in 2021, playing a leading hand in the Blues' series triumph as NSW narrowly missed out on a clean sweep with a 20-18 loss to the Maroons in Wednesday's finale on the Gold Coast.
Despite that result, getting his hands on the Origin shield after the series win was a redemptive moment for Mitchell.
"I take this jersey with pride ... as soon as I got that shield I wouldn't let go of it," Mitchell said.
"I know what it takes to be a Blue now and I'll never take it for granted ever again."
Mitchell scored in the first half of Wednesday's loss but it was an outrageous penalty attempt from 50m out with just a minute to play which marked his night.
Mitchell's kick, which would've locked the scores at 20-all, just fell short of the mark but it did nothing to dampen his belief that he is set for a long and successful future at Origin level with this Blues outfit.
"I'm backing myself 100 per cent always. I've always done since I was a kid," he said.
"I love them moments, you dream of them as a kid, for the big moments in the big arena. No bigger to do it than 50 metres out in a NSW game.
"I just didn't connect properly.
"For us to come out in the first two games and give them a bath, yeah it was something special that I'll hold close and now it's time to hold on to the shield now for the next eight years."