Roosters recruit Angus Crichton had to endure verbal barbs of 'traitor' from his former teammates and relentless boos from his former home fans last weekend but there is no question the Roosters junior is back where he wants to be – alongside players he idolised as a teenager.
Crichton shrugged off the tempestuous SCG loss to the Bunnies when he faced media outside his club's Moore Park home base on Tuesday, insisting there were no hard feelings.
But he really opened up when reflecting on his time as a 16-year-old SG Ball player at the club when he was both player and a starry-eyed fan, asking for photos with stars who are now his teammates, including Jake Friend and Daniel Tupou.
"I've always been a Roosters fan – if you speak to any NRL player, we all start by being fans of the game, that's the reason we play, because we love it," Crichton said.
"I played SG Ball with Latrell [Mitchell], Joey Manu, Connor Watson was here back then. Poasa Faamausili was here.
"Jazza (Jared Waerea-Hargreaves) and Boydo (Cordner) were here but they were the big scary guys, I didn't really want to speak to them much. Jazza came and spoke to our SG Ball team once and I was pretty starstruck.
"I remember I got a photo with Daniel Tupou when we were getting our headshots taken, I would have been 16 and he would have been starting to make a bit of a name for himself. I remember I went up there, a shy little kid and asked Toops for a photo. We still laugh about it now.
"There's another photo down Bondi Beach, I would have been 16 and I got a photo with Jazza, it's classic as.
"I went to Roosters Grand Finals, Freddie (Brad Fittler) was an idol of mine, meeting guys like Jazza and Toops when I was younger, I was pretty starstruck by them and I think if any NRL player tells you they don't still have a soft spot for the team they grew up supporting they're lying to you.
"When I was at Souths, Roosters were always one of my favourite teams and now I'm honoured to be here."
Crichton insisted there were no hard feelings with former teammate Cody Walker, who unleashed the 'traitor' barb, nor with any other players or fans.
"I'm not upset about it. I've learned to have thick skin through this process coming here and now I'm here I'm just focusing on playing my best footy for this club," he added.
"The process of coming here, you've got to have pretty thick skin, focus on yourself, focus on your team and block out the outside noise and I think if you can do that you're fine."
Boo boys don't bother Crichton
Crichton's more immediate concern is trying to earn the respect of his new teammates and coach Trent Robinson to show he warrants a spot in the run-on side after the unfamiliar experience of warming the Roosters bench for 60 minutes on club debut.
"It was different. I think I've sort of got to bide my time and put my hand up to get more minutes. All I can do is take the opportunities I get and do the best I can," he said.
He had not yet had a conversation with Robinson about the plans for this weekend, but he has again been named on the bench to face Manly at Lottoland, with club veteran Mitch Aubusson to again start in the right edge back-row spot that Crichton owned at Souths.
"Coming to a great club like this with a team that's won the comp, I'm not upset or frustrated about having to sit on the bench," Crichton said.
"I'd feel strange walking straight in and taking that spot. Mitch Aubusson's a great player. He's won two competitions with this club and played over 270 games.
"I owe him the respect to earn my spot and I owe the whole team the respect to earn my spot in this team and to get to do that, all I have to do is play my best footy every week and train as best I can every week and hopefully that will come.
"[Robinson] knows the style of footy I play and what I can bring to this team. If I can find ways to make this already great team even better, that's what he's looking for."
Friend was diplomatic when asked about how long-time teammate Aubusson and new recruit Crichton would fit into the Tricolours pack moving forward.
"Bench roles play a big part in our game now," Friend said.
"Whether you're in the starting squad or on the bench, they play very similar minutes now. They're very important. You have your guys that start and they do their job but if you have guys that come on and pick that up and bring that energy, it's a big part of the game now that second 20 of each half.
"When you have an interchange they have to come on and make an impact. Whether either guy is starting or off the bench I believe they'll both do the job they have to. It's a good problem to have which one you put on first."