Behind NRL names like Kotoni Staggs and Tom Opacic, Redcliffe surged to the 2018 Intrust Super Cup premiership with a solid spread of 'project players', shown faith by coach Adam Mogg.
Among those was five-eighth Bryce Donovan, who last year played a handful of local league games with the South Newcastle Lions.
Donovan also had two horror injuries in quick succession, firstly his shoulder and then a pectoral tear which led to him starting this season 11 rounds into the competition.
"The week before Round 1 I tore my pec and had to work my way back in," Donovan revealed after the Dolphins beat Easts 36-22 in the decider.
"I was told straight away I'd need four or five months to recover, so it looked like being most of the season.
"I'm lucky we have unreal rehab and physio staff at Redcliffe and they got me back two months ahead of schedule."
Donovan's perseverance pays off
Donovan's kicking game in particular has given the Dolphins an extra weapon in their armoury, with his ability to put the ball on a platter for teammates.
"I knew I could handle the step up to Intrust Super Cup, but it was about coming back and getting my match fitness back on track," he said.
"I've re-signed back here at Redcliffe for another year and obviously I want to go to the next level and play NRL. That's the dream.
"The year I've had has been just unreal.
"It's an unreal playing group...such a tightknit group."
A West Newcastle junior, 23-year-old Donovan has previously been in the Newcastle Knights' development system.
Post-match: Adam Mogg
Redcliffe coach Adam Mogg said it had been rewarding that players like Donovan, Toby Rudolf and Trai Fuller – who have previously been passed over by NRL clubs – got to have a second chance and show what they were capable of.
"That's your job as a coach," Mogg said.
"You've got to back them and believe in them.
"You set the parameters of how they can achieve their goals.
Redcliffe will now face NSW Intrust Super premiership champions Canterbury Bulldogs in the national championship game on Sunday, played before the NRL grand final in Sydney.