When Cameron McInnes departed South Sydney in 2016 where he was once considered the captain-in-waiting, reaching 100 NRL games appeared a long way off.
Three years on and not only will the St George Illawarra hooker crack the triple-figure milestone, he has also welcomed the prospect of being their long-term skipper.
The impending departure of Gareth Widdop at the end of the year has opened the door for someone to lead the chase for their first premiership since 2011.
McInnes, James Graham, Tyson Frizell have all shared the responsibility since Widdop was sidelined with a knee injury in late March.
However, McInnes isn't afraid to shoulder the burden himself.
"If I get chosen, I'd be proud and definitely accept it," McInnes told AAP.
"I feel like each year I've gotten more consistent in my play and playing at a higher level. For me, that's the biggest thing about being a leader."
It's the one quality he's noticed from Widdop, who ascension to the role following Ben Creagh's retirement also coincided with McInnes' arrival.
"With Gareth, win, lose or draw, his effort on the field, his competitiveness ... he's always in the game. That's something I've really learnt off him," McInnes said.
"It's all well and good to have the right things to say.
"But that respect comes from week in, week out, bringing it on the field, walking off and everyone knows what they're going to get from you.
"If I can keep doing that, then I would be definitely comfortable in the role."
Dragons coach Paul McGregor simply described McInnes as a leader.
"He's got great work ethic, high footy IQ, his threshold for pain - I've never seen someone handle pain like he does," McGregor said.
"He's an 80-minute hooker, he leads by how determined and passionate he plays."
The Dragons will need all the leadership they can get from McInnes when they attempt to snap a four-game losing streak in Sunday's local derby with Cronulla.
McGregor has responded to their run of outs by making four changes, including picking Zac Lomax at fullback for the axed Matt Dufty.
The Sharks are also looking to rebound from a 10-point loss to Manly last-start, but will be buoyed by the expected return of Matt Moylan.
STATS THAT MATTER
* The Sharks have won just one of 13 games in Wollongong since 1990.
* Andrew Fifita's league-high 36 offloads so far this year, has helped the Sharks become the best offloading team in the league.
* The Dragons have conceded a league-high 13 tries down their right edge.
Australian Associated Press