Wayne Bennett knew nothing of Braidon Burns when he first arrived at Redfern.
So when Greg Inglis missed the start of pre-season and Burns waltzed over to left centre without permission, Bennett was taken slightly aback.
"He just made his own decision to go to the early training sessions and he had himself in the centres," Bennett recalled.
"I thought, 'This guy knows a bit more than I do'."
Almost four months on and the South Sydney youngster has announced himself in the NRL as the man who forced club champion Greg Inglis to move over.
Burns turned in easily his best performance of his young career in the Rabbitohs' 34-18 thumping of St George Illawarra on Thursday night.
The 22-year-old picked up a try and registered a game-high 168 metres in a display that justified Bennett's decision to play the unknown centre over Inglis.
"I thought he was close to our best player actually," Bennett said.
"I like what he brings and I made the decision with GI to put him on the other side, so he had the opportunity to play and develop into a player."
The former Penrith junior played the first 10 games of his career on the wing under Michael Maguire in 2017.
Last year he was used sparingly by Anthony Seibold, with his five appearances coming off the bench, on the wing, or in the centres.
But Bennett was instantly impressed by Burns' combination with Cody Walker whilst Inglis was on the mend from off-season surgery on his shoulder and neck.
"He didn't give up his position when GI came back. He didn't say, 'I'll go and play on the other side, coach'," Bennett said.
"I thought, 'Well, he thinks this is where he should be playing'.
"I just liked what he did in the pre-season and thought he's a much better player than people probably thinks he is."
The Rabbitohs' comeback win over the Dragons gives them back-to-back wins to start the Bennett era.
The only downside was a possible chest injury to John Sutton, while Inglis finished the match despite being troubled by a shoulder issue.
Front-rower Liam Knight was also reported for a chicken wing tackle.
Australian Associated Press