Twelve months ago Ethan Lowe was languishing in Intrust Super Cup in north Queensland.
"It's been a pretty crazy ride. That was a tough bit of the year there last year."
Crazier still was Lowe's Queensland Origin debut on Wednesday night. He wasn't even expected to play when he was named 18th man last week, but then through Matt Gillett's groin injury he found himself in hostile territory trying to win an Origin decider before a sold-out Blues-mad ANZ Stadium.
He put all that behind him and played 80 minutes, made 90 metres off 14 runs, and topped the Maroons forwards with 33 post-contact metres and 52 tackles.
There are several people he'd like to thank for getting him out of that rut last year and bringing him to one of the biggest games of his career – not withstanding his 2015 premiership with the Cowboys – and uppermost is Queensland coach Kevin Walters.
"I'm not sure if Kevvie remembers this but I was playing Q-Cup against his boy Billy and after the game he came and said a few words to me," Lowe said.
"It's something I haven't forgotten and something I've used as motivation to keep working hard. It's got me here.
"He talked about not letting one person define who I am as a footballer. He said to me he knew I was a very good footballer and I just needed an opportunity."
That came when he joined the Rabbitohs at the start of the 2019 Telstra Premiership, signing a one-year deal after a call from his former Northern Pride coach Jason Demetriou. He also spoke with South Sydney's new head coach Wayne Bennett and the pair convinced him to head out of the tropics to Sydney.
"I can't thank those two of the Rabbitohs enough for giving me the chance to get back and play regular first grade."
Lowe also had to take over Queensland's goal-kicking duties on Wednesday night due to the injury to regular sharp shooter Kalyn Ponga (calf).
So when did he find out all this responsibility was going to be lumped on his shoulders.
"It was Friday at training, Gillo tweeked his groin and Kevvie said 'Just jump on and we'll see what happens'," Lowe said.
"From there he told me if Gillo couldn't play I'd be starting. So from that Friday I was preparing to play. Obviously on Tuesday at the captain's run it was confirmed I'd be starting."
Lowe looked like he'd been playing Origin all his life with an above-average performance.
"It was a tough game and at the end there we just weren't quite good enough," he said.
Match Highlights: Blues v Maroons
"It's been a wild week. But it's probably one of the happiest and proudest days of my life even though we didn't get the result.
"This is something that pretty much every Queenslander dreams of growing up – to wear this jersey. So to finally get the chance to do it is something very special – something I'll never forget."
And naturally, he wants to do it all again.
"For me personally it's a massive milestone. I want more of it."
Demetriou said Lowe's Origin debut for Queensland was a "deserved reward" for his form and dedication.
"He took a big punt and a big pay-cut to come to Souths but it has all worked out for him. It is a great story," Demetriou told NRL.com.
"What Origin is about is work rate and turning up for your mates and that is what Ethan's game is built on. To play in a decider is massive for him."