Waratahs winger James Ramm missed almost the entire 2019 season with frustrating hamstring injuries.
A year on and Ramm has rocketed his way up the Super Rugby pecking order, established himself as a regular starter and been reassured that Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is watching him.
Ramm spent 2019 battling seven hamstring tears of varying severity but has managed a clean bill of health this year.
He had a surprise debut against the Lions in the first chapter of Super Rugby this season but it has been in Super Rugby AU where the Randwick speedster has really made his mark.
After six Super Rugby AU rounds, Ramm leads the competition in clean breaks and defenders beaten and is third in metres carried.
Despite his form, Ramm said he still couldn't quite believe when he picked up his phone and heard Rennie's voice on the other end of the line.
"I thought it was one of my mate's pranking me, so I was really tentative, but I heard the Kiwi accent and thought it must be legit," he said.
"(It was) just really to get in touch, to say he's watching, he's liking what he's seeing. He's given me a lot to work on, in what he'd like to see from me, but to get that call is huge. It's something I did not expect.
"I still don't believe (he called). It does show if you're in a dark spot, or you've had a year out and you keep working hard, it will come to fruition. It's worth it in the end."
Ramm will have at least two more seasons to keep pressing his Test claims with the Waratahs, if the 22-year-old doesn't work his way into the Test frame before then, after inking a new deal with NSW.
The speedster is the second player to commit beyond this season behind Queensland's Hunter Paisami, after a contracting freeze was lifted earlier this month.
Ramm has been part of the Waratahs Academy in recent years, after impressing in club rugby, and was a member of the Junior Wallabies in 2018.
Ramm said he never entertained the possibility of looking elsewhere despite the uncertainty of this season in rugby.
"It's a lifelong dream and to finally have done that, it's something massive for me, for my family as well and I'm just loving my time here," he said.
"A new set of coaches, such a good group of guys, it's been said a couple of times as well but I feel like something's building, something's coming and I think that was really, there was no other option for me, it was this or nothing.
Really, really happy to be able to have re-signed."
Waratahs coach Rob Penney said Ramm had developed into a key part of his matchday 23.
“He’s been great for us right throughout the season,” he said.
“It’s been really pleasing to see Rammy grow into his position within the team, he’s improving every week which is a testament to all the work he does behind the scenes.
“He’s a fantastic athlete with a great skillset that is only going to improve with experience, he’s a proud New South Welshman and we’re glad he’ll be with us for the next couple of seasons.”
NSW Rugby's general manager of rugby Tim Rapp said Ramm was hopefully the first of a number of young players they would be able to lock in for the future now.
“We’ve got a great history of developing talent through our pathway here in New South Wales with high-end competitions to assist player development – Rammy is another great example of that,” he said.
“He’s worked extremely hard in recent years and dealt with some frustrating injuries, now with some consistent time on the park he’s taken his opportunity and been really impressive.”