Mount Isa's Kalyn Ponga is unfazed by the outside noise.
In saying that, the gifted Newcastle and Queensland fullback is aware of it and is starting to understand and accept that what he says and what he does is up for scrutiny.
But don't expect him to change who he is.
Ponga's now infamous line about having a milkshake when he was told coach Nathan Brown was leaving with two games left at the end of last season has not left a sour taste in his mouth.
That was two weeks after he was howled down for laughing on-field with opponents after a loss to the Eels.
"There were a lot of lessons learnt, definitely in the media. But in saying that, I'm not going to fabricate anything," Ponga told NRL.com in Newcastle on Wednesday.
"I'm still going to be authentic and be me. That's what I'm good at - I'm good at being me. I guess people perceive things differently, but the people who know me best know what I'm like."
Ponga, 21, who is preparing for his third season at the Knights, would not discuss his long-term future, or his decision to part company with manager Wayde Rushton.
He is contracted until the end of 2021, so he can speak to rival clubs from November this year, but he has a player option in his favour for 2022.
In his interview with NRL.com, he made several references to spending at least the next three years in Newcastle.
Ponga's father, Andre, told the Newcastle Herald on January 5 that they had severed ties with Rushton, clearing the way for the Knights to negotiate an extended and upgraded deal.
"Myself, that doesn't stress me out or worry me. What worries me is going to training every day and not making times, or not playing good footy, or not performing," Ponga explained.
"The other stuff, that's not on my mind - I'm too busy worrying about pre-season - so I'm comfortable with where I'm at. I've still got three years in Newcastle, so I've got this year to worry about.
"I care about what my friends, the boys, my family and my coach think about me, and other than that I stick to myself."
Against the backdrop of Brown's departure, the Knights endured a disastrous end to 2019 and missed the finals for the sixth straight season.
Ponga was overlooked for Australia's Test team but was honoured to represent his country in two other events in October.
He helped Australia win the World Cup Nines and played a dominant role in the Junior Kangaroos' 62-4 thumping of France in Wollongong.
"The World Cup Nines was my first taste of what Mal [Meninga] is like, and what the system is like," he said.
"You're still in the green and gold - I guess you're not playing for the Australian team - but you're still in the same colours, then to play in the Aussie under 23s was awesome because I got to play with some boys I wanted to play with, and represent Australia again."
Rather than reflect on the way the Knights finished last season, Ponga is excited about what lies ahead.
"I'm motivated by the way the boys have trained over the pre-season. That's what motivates me; coming to training every day," he said.
"There's been higher standards [since the arrival of new coach Adam O'Brien], intensity is on a new level, everyone's competing, and everyone's enjoying what we're doing. I know it's only pre-season but we're working hard, and it's been good.
"You don't really know until you're a few rounds into the season how you're really going but at this time of year, we're training hard and everyone's rocking up to training with a good attitude."
article originally published on nrl.com