Update: 12:37PM FOUR years after the NSW Waratahs discarded Nemani Nadolo as too slow to make it as a winger, he has become the supersized 122kg headache capable of torpedoing their title dreams on Saturday.
The Brisbane-raised juggernaut has been one of the finds of the Super Rugby season. Only Israel Folau (12) has crossed for more than his 11 tries, on the end of a Crusaders backline now infused by Dan Carter's trickery.
It's rare that Kiwis laud an Aussie-reared import but his stampeding runs, clever off-loads and growing confidence have helped turn around New Zealand's best team after a critical shortage of backline power to open the season.
Nadolo revealed from Christchurch on Tuesday that his difficult split from the Waratahs squad in 2010 helped make him as a player because it forced him overseas and to harden up during up-and-down runs at clubs in France, England and Japan.
"I'm a completely different character now to that guy who was a bit lost in the big city when at the Tahs. I was a young 22 when I left and could have been more committed," Nadolo said with an honesty only possible when you come out the other side.
"Being surrounded by a lot of perfectionist players at the Crusaders rubs off. We know how well the Waratahs have played as the benchmark this season but no one is getting on the plane to Sydney with a single thought of losing this final.
"This final is not about me proving people wrong. Just being out there this season has done that for half those people who thought I was too slow or had a perception I'd never pick up another Super Rugby club."
In his early years, the work ethic to be a professional footballer proved far more elusive than it was for cousin Lote Tuqiri, the dual international. He was a cult hero as a young giant among boys at Nudgee College who could drop kick field goals from the sideline in just footy socks.
The happy balance he has found off the field has been the key to his big 2014 season as much as the steady flow of ball to the left wing.
In April, he mended his estrangement from his father.
They had shared the same surname until he ditched it when his parents split and he chose to honour his mother Bale by taking hers.
His emotional return to Brisbane on Mothers Day in May produced a dynamite two-try display to destroy the Reds.
His mum and dad will be in the crowd again on Saturday night in Sydney when Nadolo tries to make another titanic mark on the final against the Waratahs.
"It'll be a weird feeling playing the Waratahs for the first time. I'll try hard to keep the emotions in check and remember what I'm there for," Nadolo said.