Last season, as his future played out across the back pages and nightly news, Daly Cherry-Evans could barely step out of his front door without a camera or reporter grilling him on his next move.
The prolonged tango with the Gold Coast Titans, which ended back in the arms of the Sea Eagles at Manly, would dominate much of the early season and the man at the centre of it all couldn't have been more uncomfortable in the glare.
Regardless of who was at fault, Cherry-Evans felt like a fish out of water as he tried to explain the scenario. Later, when thrust into the Origin spotlight, he would shoulder part of the blame for Queensland's game-two defeat in Melbourne, then get dropped for game three.
A year later and Cherry-Evans says he couldn't be happier to go back to simply trying to improve as footballer and help his new-look Manly side do likewise. Settled and content off the field, the halfback said he was more than happy to flick-pass the media attention.
"I really have [enjoyed some anonymity] ... I genuinely have enjoyed staying out of the spotlight. For those who know me, they understand it's not the sort of life I like to live," Cherry-Evans said.
"I'm very fortunate this year that I have a lot of things settled outside of rugby league. For me, the test is to continue to develop as a rugby league player.
"It's just bringing up old rubbish. I think everyone is over it. I think people get sick of reading about it as much as I get sick of talking about it."
Cherry-Evans will do his utmost to orchestrate an upset over Brisbane in the NRL double-header at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night. It's another illustration of just how quickly things can change in the course of a year.
Normally, a match like this would be a chance for Queensland selectors to gauge his form ahead of the series opener. But with Cowboys star Michael Morgan now the preferred utility option and Cooper Cronk remaining the top-flight half, his name has barely had a mention.
Even the men opposite – Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford – may have surpassed him in the pecking order, such is the depth and quality of the Maroons halves stocks, even if that pair won't be available for selection due to their costly curfew break in a pre-season camp.
Cherry-Evans said he remained as committed as ever to the Maroons but hadn't heard from new coach Kevin Walters outside of the traditional Sydney dinner for out-of-state Queenslanders.
But having been there before and then being let go has only made him realise how much he wants to return to the interstate arena, where he has performed solidly without having the kind of breakout game he had craved.
"It's the dream of every kid growing up in Queensland. I've been fortunate enough to taste it but I've been unfortunate enough to lose it. I understand it doesn't last forever," he said.
Anything can happen over the next few weeks and it would only take an injury to put Cherry-Evans right back in the Origin frame. For the moment, he wants to be at the centre of a mid-season Manly drive up the table, starting with beating Brisbane in front of a sold-out Suncorp crowd.
"Definitely [we can win] – and it would be an upset. There is no pressure on us, which is great. We've had a good week of preparation. The Broncos are the benchmark at the moment," he said.
"I am feeling fresh. I'm just looking forward to building on our season so far, which has been inconsistent at best."