ONE MOMENT sticks clearly in Josh Corbett's mind following Gold Coast's victory over Collingwood at the MCG last Saturday.
The spring-heeled forward had just completed arguably the best match of his young career, kicking four goals in the 24-point triumph.
As Corbett and his teammates headed to the boundary line to thank the handful of Suns fans in attendance, he spotted some familiar faces.
"I saw about six or seven of my best mates across the fence," Corbett told AFL.com.au.
"It was so surreal. Not long ago I was the one watching the football from in the stands and here I was on the inside of the fence saying thanks to my mates.
"My mum was on the second level waving and carrying on. I could see her from a mile away.
"Getting the win made it so special. It was just a great day."
Corbett was one of three players chosen by the Suns from State Leagues at the end of 2018 as part of an AFL assistance package.
The others were versatile tall Chris Burgess and current vice-captain Sam Collins.
After taking different paths to the top, suddenly the trio are integral members of a revitalised Gold Coast that has won its past two matches.
'Sargent' Collins has been a feature from day one, putting behind a delisting from Fremantle and a year alongside Corbett in the VFL with Werribee to establish himself as one of the most consistent full-backs in the competition.
Burgess has played as a key forward and back-up ruck in the absence of injured Sam Day, and Corbett as a sure-handed key forward.
"Culturally all three are rock-solid guys," Gold Coast football manager Jon Haines said.
"Corbo is high energy, high engagement, he just brings unbelievable enthusiasm to the place.
"One of his great strengths is regardless of his on-field performance, his level of energy and the work he does in connecting players, checking in, with staff as well, is first class."
Corbett is just 25 and has played 19 games – identical to Burgess.
Despite his 'non-traditional' path to the top level, Corbett said he never lost faith in himself.
Alongside Brandon Ellis he is the best endurance runner at the club, and coupled with his strong marking, a difficult match-up for opponents.
"I never played TAC Cup," he said.
"To be honest it was a late thing for me that I thought I was a chance to be a on a list to start with.
"I had a consistent last year at Werribee, but if you look back at when I first started there I was just getting by at Development League.
"Every time I've gone up a level I've had to evolve into the level and understand what it required to go further.
"When you're given an opportunity you never know when it's going to end, so while you're here you might as well give it 100 percent.
"It should give boys belief in the VFL, WAFL or SANFL or wherever it is, there's opportunities out there if you work hard and really believe in yourself … you can go a long way."
Burgess was a plucked from West Adelaide, where he'd proven an excellent contested mark at either end with a big leap.
He's a qualified teacher, quietly spoken, and as Haines says, a valuable contributor to the broader playing list with his "real world" experience.
"I think sometimes when you have a team that's perceived, or externally spoken about, as having high talent, those guys can get lost in that mix," Haines said.
"Internally we don't see it that way. It was a matter of getting an opportunity.
"Our expectation is the VFL program is development first, winning second, and that the players coming out of the VFL program are ready to go. They're AFL players.
"Players are looking up and wanting to kick the ball to Josh and Chris and that takes the pressure off Kingy (Ben King) as well.
"If they keep playing to the level they are, the spots are theirs."