Surviving a brutal State of Origin game two workout loomed as the ultimate test of character for Daly Cherry-Evans.
But Queensland coach Mal Meninga believed the true making of the man would be how Cherry-Evans dealt with the off-field pain of the Maroons' dynasty shattering 6-4 loss in Sydney on Wednesday night.
Cherry-Evans copped hit after merciless hit as NSW provided a thorough workout to a knee complaint that kept the halfback in doubt for the match until the last minute.
Meninga said the Blues' ruthless treatment would steel Cherry-Evans but believed the blond playmaker would gain more from the heartbreaking loss.
"He is going to get better not worse from that experience," Meninga said.
"You learn more from defeat than victory.
"I have been in this situation more than these guys (as a player) and losing a series does build character - it's how you handle it going forward."
Cherry-Evans knew he would be targeted after only getting the green light to play on Tuesday afternoon, dashing Ben Hunt's hopes of an Origin debut.
But few could have predicted the ferocious hits dished out to the four-game Origin player.
However, a black and blue Cherry-Evans said witnessing Queensland's eight-year Origin reign end hurt the most.
"It (rough NSW treatment) was always going to happen with the media build-up in regards to my knee," he said.
"But I wouldn't have played if I didn't think I could get through it.
"It was typical Origin, there's no other way to describe it. That's what makes it so good.
"But personally, it was a really empty feeling after the game."
Cherry-Evans added: "I am fortunate to have a great mentor in Mal.
"I will take a lot out of what he said tonight.
"This moment will be hard to forget but if I go away and try to learn from this it will make me a better player."
Halves partner Johnathan Thurston believed the game two experience showed Cherry-Evans had what it took at Origin level.
"They threw a lot of traffic his way. He copped a lot of big hits, he's a tough kid," he said.
"He will be a part of this side for many years to come."
He copped some hits but Cherry-Evans almost landed a telling blow when he threatened to score off his own kick in the first half, only to be denied by a desperate Josh Reynolds.
"So close yet so far. I guess it is how NSW have felt in previous years," Cherry-Evans said.