Even the most optimistic St George Illawarra fan couldn't have predicted the start to the season for new recruit Jack Bird.
The experts say it takes 12-months to fully regain confidence after recovering physically from an ACL injury. So what happens when you have consecutive major knee operations?
For Bird, the premiership-winning and NSW centre, he has picked up where he left off after an injury-plagued stint at Brisbane.
On Sunday, in a scrappy 32-12 win against the Bulldogs, he was a class above. He switched between and left and right centre with ease and broke tackles like his days at the Sharks.
It's a test we need to take us to another level, you've got to be able to compete at that level.- Anthony Griffin
More importantly his swagger is starting to return and coach Anthony Griffin will be hoping it rubs off on the rest of his squad and in particular 19-year-old debutants Mathew Feagai and Junior Amone who were impressive in their first games.
Next stop for Bird and the Dragons is the Melbourne Storm. It's the ultimate test in the NRL - and the Dragons know it.
"It's a test we need to take us to another level, you've got to be able to compete at that level," Griffin said.
"They (Melbourne) are the form team of the competition at the moment, the way they took apart South Sydney the other night."
With teammate Zac Lomax (thumb) sidelined, the whispers will start to grow for an Origin call-up if Bird can handle the relentless pressure of the Storm in a stadium they thrive at.
In racing terms, they are going from a mid-week benchmark 64 to a Saturday Group 1 such is the jump in class. To win, the Dragons will need to rediscover their Parramatta form from a few weeks ago to be any chance.
But the there is a silver lining for the sixth-placed Dragons - win, lose or draw.
After the Storm, they face the Sharks, Wests Tigers, Broncos, Bulldogs, Raiders and the Warriors heading into their bye.
It's a winnable stretch of games that could see them firmly entrench themselves in the top eight heading into the back end of the season.
Despite dealing with a shortage in outside backs, the Dragons are benefiting from bounce back years from their senior players with Corey Norman, Paul Vaughan and Tariq Sims returning to their representative form and fullback Matt Dufty continuing his progression in the No.1 jumper.
And then there is Bird. On Sunday he made 19 runs for 170-metres, had four offloads and created a try. Or to put it another way, the Bird is back.
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