Sam Walker admits he felt he had something to prove in the Sydney Roosters' NRL elimination final win over Cronulla, as he kept his team's season alive with the biggest clutch play of his career.
Walker was the hero in the Roosters' gruelling 13-12 win over Cronulla, nailing a late field goal to set up a semi-final clash with Melbourne on Friday night.
The result could not have been more different to the halfback's last visit to PointsBet Stadium in April.
Beaten 22-12 by the Sharks in round seven, the Roosters made the call to drop Walker in the aftermath of the match following a tough night for the No.7 in their second straight loss.
A month later has was injured playing reserve grade, leaving him fearing his season was over before medical staff cleared the 21-year-old to return from a stretched anterior cruciate ligament.
"It's always a better feeling when you get a win," Walker said.
"Last time here was my last game of first grade before I got dropped and hurt my knee.
"To come back here was good. I wanted to prove a point, it's part of the journey. And we're one step closer.
"Everyone's got their individual path that they go down. I'm just stoked to be back playing NRL and playing in a final series."
Walker's confidence since his return has been notable.
While he was far from his best in his first game back, against Wests Tigers in round 26, he scored a try when he ran the ball from 15 metres out and beat four defenders.
His self-belief was evident again on Saturday night, with Walker setting up the Roosters' first try with a long pass for Joey Manu to score.
Coach Trent Robinson labelled his playmaker ice cold in clutch moments, after Walker stood up to take the match-winning field goal with eight minutes to play.
"It's just backing my ability," Walker said.
"That's why I'm here and that's the role I have to play. After being dropped, I understood what my role in the team was. I have to step up and do that.
"I've always had the same belief and confidence.
"It's a good thing and a bad thing in a way. Even after getting dropped I was clear and I knew how I wanted to play.
"I just had to get back to doing what I was doing, what I do well.
"It wasn't coming off at the start of the year but I had a bit of time to think and process it all."
Walker hurt his ankle in the lead-up to the Roosters' second try on Saturday night and was unable to take the conversion in the moments before his successful field goal attempt.
But he is at no risk of joining teammates including Joey Manu and Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii on the sidelines against Melbourne on Friday.