Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow is excited to be an every week starter again at the Dolphins after the Queenslander plummeted down the Cowboys' pecking order in 2022.
A host of breakout stars, positional switches and injuries saw 'the Hammer' fall from starting fullback in Round 1, to coming off the interchange bench by Round 8, the beginning of the end of Tabuai-Fidow's Townsville career.
A minor injury suffered in Round 4 ruled out the speedster for just three weeks, that's all the time Scott Drinkwater needed to make the fullback role his own. After being handed the No. 1 jersey in Hamiso's absence, Drinkwater would play every game for the club in 2022 from Round 5 onwards.
It meant Tabuai-Fidow went from a try-scoring debut for Queensland to the interchange bench in just nine months.
He played just three minutes in the preliminary final loss to Parramatta, not only proving to be a short-lived 50th NRL game, but also his last for the club.
A local North Queensland junior, Tabuai-Fidow says it was an incredibly hard decision to make, but he simply had to be starting each.
“It was pretty hard for myself, being young and just not knowing what was going to happen when I did come back because Scott Drinkwater came onto the scene and he did well — big raps to him, he's a good player,” Tabuai-Fidow told Fox Sports.
“Coming back into the team off the bench was hard in the first couple of games, just not knowing how much time I'd get on the field.
“There were some moments when I thought ‘I don't really want to do this — I want to be a starter.'
“Being a professional athlete, that drive and hunger is important. At the back end of the season I sort of lost that.
“It's the NRL and everyone is good so you have to have that drive to be better.
“I didn't know how much time I'd get on the field — sometimes I was only playing five minutes and that hit me hard.
“It was weird because I've never played just five minutes in my life.
“I was coming off the bench and that's not what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a starter."
While a number of clubs came knocking for the lightning-quick 21 year-old, a sprinkle of Wayne Bennett charm was all it took to convince Hamiso to sign on the dotted line.
“The first time I spoke to him was on FaceTime. He said ‘I've got the trust in you, you just need to trust me',” Tabuai-Fidow reminisced with Fox Sports.
“The way he speaks, you can tell he really cares.
“He's a good bloke and just the way he speaks to the team, you really tune into what he says. I could listen to him for ages. He's one of the legendary coaches.”
The Hammer is expected to beat out fellow recruits Tesi Niu and Jamayne Isaako for the vacant fullback role, which would hand him a historic player number for the Dolphins if he's named there for Round 1 - Dolphin #1.