When he was told by Wayne Bennett earlier this year he had no future at Newcastle, Richie Fa'aoso didn't expect to be playing in a NRL grand final for Melbourne three months later.
Despite being a regular member of the Knights side for four years, Bennett told the 28-year-old he hadn't impressed him enough to earn a new deal and could leave.
Fa'aoso admits the uncertainty that comes with the arrival of a new coach did affect him, but is honest enough to realise he didn't do enough to convince the seven-time premiership-winning coach he was worth keeping.
"I just didn't play. I gave him no choice," Fa'aoso told AAP on Monday.
"There's a lot of talent up there and if the older players aren't playing well then you have to give the younger ones a go.
"I have no anger to anyone up there, that's just footy."
Unsure about where his future lay, the last person he expected to hear on the phone was Storm coach Craig Bellamy.
And it was an instant lift to his morale for a player who has also struggled to make the grade at Penrith, Parramatta and Sydney Roosters.
"I would be lying if I said it didn't boost my confidence," he said.
"It gave me belief in myself again. Coming down here has been great. I've made some bad decisions in my life.
"I am just glad that I made a right one for a change and made the decision to relocate to Melbourne."
Fa'aoso joins Manly after the grand final with a heavy heart, and gave his future employers a taste of what he can offer them with a strong performance in Friday's preliminary final.
But his good fortune has come at the expense of Jason Ryles' bad luck, with the veteran prop's troublesome hamstring opening the door for the Cairns native.
"When Rylesy went down a few weeks back I felt bad for him," he said.
"But it's given me a chance to play in a grand final," he said.
"It's unreal how things have turned out down here for me.
"They brought me down when I was struggling at Newcastle and I'm really thankful for them giving me an opportunity."
"I am not one of the game's big star names, but Craig believed in me and I'll be sad to leave."