Pressure weighed down Siosifa Talakai in his first stint in the NRL and almost led him to quit rugby league.
Depressed and lacking motivation at the time, the powerhouse would be lost to the game if not for the encouragement of his parents.
Their faith and his perseverance has been rewarded with a one-year contract extension at Cronulla after the Tongan back-rower forced his way into the team from a pre-season train-and-trial deal.
"I wasn't going to play last year and Mum and Dad talked to me and I got a message off my cousin playing for Newtown at the time [convincing me to play]," Talakai said on Thursday.
The versatile forward debuted for South Sydney in 2016 but injuries slowed him down the following season. He departed for Penrith midway through 2018 but remained in reserve grade.
Talakai said he'd "started to crack under the pressure at Souths".
"I was very depressed and kind of fighting my own battle within myself for a few months," the 23-year-old said.
"I managed to find my feet at Penrith ... [then] I went to Newtown and kept building from there and matured a whole lot.
"I definitely know how to deal with the pressure now and I've definitely got the support that I need."
Warriors v Sharks - Round 10
It was with Newtown – Cronulla's feeder team who won the Canterbury Cup and State Championship last year – that Talakai rediscovered his love for the sport.
"Coming to Cronulla, the boys have been a big help for me. [I'd been battling] outside noise, a few demons within yourself, having to perform each week and be on top of your game," Talakai said.
"That's what got to me the most. I was just worried about a lot of other things ... I don't think I was performing to what I could have been.
"I guess it was just catching up to me, every week just kept topping it off. It ended up biting me in the arse."
Talakai, who still lives with parents Tali and Suli in south Sydney suburb Mascot, has impressed teammates and fans in his five games for the Sharks. He averages 90 metres per match.
"What he's done off the bench for us has been massive," centre Jesse Ramien said. "He's come on and brought that aggression and power and that running game that we need."
Talakai made 93 metres in 15 minutes before copping a head knock in last week's 56-24 drubbing against Penrith.
The ninth-placed Sharks could use that kind of output against the Warriors on Sunday but the side's focus has been defence.
Chad Townsend said the Sharks "didn't touch the ball" at a training session this week as they set about atoning for the Panthers loss.
"It is a little bit concerning. I was thinking to myself after the game, over the last probably five years there hasn't been a time where our team has conceded that many points," the halfback said.
"For us, it's about moving forward and what we can control in the future. We were obviously devastated and disappointed with how many points and to be honest it's a little bit embarrassing.
"We need to go out and show with our actions on that weekend that that's not acceptable."