Less then an hour after starring in Newcastle's win over Brisbane last weekend, playmaker Mason Lino declared: "I finally feel like I belong".
A week on from that break-through performance for the Knights in the NRL, we are going to find out whether the 25-year-old really has taken his game to new heights.
In a whirlwind few days, Lino has gone from Mitchell Pearce's surprise support act against the Broncos to his side's main man against the Warriors on Saturday night at McDonald Jones Stadium.
With Pearce on Origin duty, Lino will be thrust into the halfback role alongside Kurt Mann at five-eighth as the Knights face the herculean task of taking down a desperate Warriors without seven regular starting players.
Aside from Pearce, middle forwards David Klemmer, Daniel Saifiti and Tim Glasby will also miss the game because of Origin III commitments while fullback Kalyn Ponga and winger Edrick Lee are injured and backrower Mitch Barnett is out suspended.
Saifiti's twin brother Jacob will make his first appearance in the NRL in 413 days as a straight replacement for Daniel in the frontrow, hooker Danny Levi returns after six weeks on the sideline following ankle surgery while Jamie Buhrer is expected to start for the first time this season on the right edge in place of Sione Mata'utia, who switches to left centre.
So stretched is the Knights' roster, just six days after becoming eligible for NRL selection, teenage halfback Phoenix Crossland is set to be given his debut off the bench by coach Nathan Brown, the day before his 19th birthday.
Pearce, for one, has no doubts Lino will handle the extra responsibility of running the show in his absence against his former club saying he just has to believe in himself.
"He was great for us against the Broncos, Mason - just a lot more confident and self-assured and that try he scored in the second half will do him the world of good," Pearce said. "He took the pressure of me with his kicking game as well and you saw the confidence in his goal-kicking. I've got plenty of faith in him to do a good job."
Lino has played just four NRL games this season and only found out he was in the side for the Broncos' clash a few days before the match because of uncertainly surrounding Kurt Mann's availability due to his mother's illness.
But he made the most of the opportunity. He threw a superb left to right, long cut-out ball that saw winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall cross for a try in the first half. Then, after the break, he put Jesse Ramien one-on-one with Darius Boyd and backed up on the inside himself to score following the Knights centre's brilliant burst.
He also kicked five goals from as many attempts including a couple from the touchline.
"I've been working hard on my game and getting more and more confident and I guess I finally feel like I belong at this level,"Lino said after the win.
"I'm pretty happy with my performance although you can always do better, I'll keep working hard. I'd love to start cementing my spot and hopefully, I will get some more opportunities to do that."
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At the time, Lino was cagey about his prospects of being the chief playmaker against the Warriors should Pearce be chosen for the Blues.
"I don't know about that but he deserves it. We'll see what happens," he said.
Lino said the prospect of facing his former club for the first time will be special.
"There will be a bit of emotion there for sure but it doesn't really matter. I just have to focus on what I do best and hopefully, we can play some good footy," he said. "It's not going to affect me. I've been working a lot with Ju [Pearce] and Browny on the mental side of things and it's been good."
Meanwhile, Buhrer and Kenny-Dowall will captain the side in Pearce's absence.