Cronulla halfback Chad Townsend has vowed to heed the lessons of last year's finals ahead of Sunday's elimination final against North Queensland.
Townsend was hooked from the field in the first week of last year's finals after a lacklustre opening to the qualifying final against Canberra.
The Sharks came back to win the match, but Townsend still regards it as "one of the worst" performances of his six-year NRL career.
"I was devastated to be honest," Townsend told AAP.
"The day after, you sort of start to question what was it? Was it your preparation, was your head not on?
"Things weren't going my way then and my character was getting tested. I had to think about how can I show up and show I'm worthy of being here?"
The match was Townsend's first finals game in three years, and the 26-year-old went on to prove his worth and then some over the ensuing weeks.
He had one of the best games of his career against North Queensland in the preliminary final, and was a premiership-winning halfback the following week against Melbourne.
"From that Sunday night (after the Canberra match) I just decided to forget about it," he said.
"What's done is done. I can't change what's happened in the past.
"But what I could do was just knuckle down and turn up to training on Monday with my chest out and just control what I can control."
With three more finals games under his belt, he's adamant he's entering Sunday's clash with the Cowboys at Allianz Stadium far better prepared than he was in 2016.
"I learned that in those big games the best thing you can do is rely on your basic fundamentals," he said.
"It's the same game you have during the 24 weeks in the season except there is probably a bigger crowd and there is a bit more on the line.
"Nothing else changes, everything else is the same."
STATS THAT MATTER
* Cronulla and North Queensland have met in three of the past four finals series, with the Sharks winning twice.
* The Cowboys have won just four of 13 finals in Sydney.
* Cronulla have the worst completion rate in the NRL (74 per cent).
Source: Fox Sports Stats