RICKY Stuart doesn't usually get bossed around - but then Griffith rugby league prodigy and new Parramatta signing Halauafu Lavaka is no shrinking violet.
Any other 19-year-old would be happy enough just being in the same room as the former NSW Origin coach, let alone after inking a Holden Cup contract with a club widely thought to be on the up and up.
But not Lavaka, who this week secured a release from Penrith in order to join the Eels on a one-year deal.
Stuart had been eyeing Lavaka at the Panthers but wasn't convinced.
So instead of asking for a chance, the teenage sensation straight-up told his future master it was only a matter of time until he was in his preferred Eels side.
"I guess with that confidence, it showed to him that I'm a player who believes in himself," Lavaka told The Area News.
"You need that to push through to the top.
"Ricky's pretty much given me the opportunity to start at the club there in the Holden Cup team and hopefully work my way up in the next couple of months or next year to the first grade."
While the promising utility might be known for his sheer size and strength, it is that unerring confidence that seems destined to be his trademark.
"He's a very confident boy. There's times I've just got to bring him down and tell him not to get ahead of himself," laughed his advisor Mario Tartek, who worked with Lavaka's agent Jason Arraj in sorting the Parramatta shift.
"He found (the one-year deal) suitable because he knows he can prove himself. Now it's up to him to do the hard yards."
Not that Penrith wanted to let Lavaka go.
"The first time we went for the release, Phil Gould actually shot him down," Tartek said.
"He said 'no, this is where we want you, you've got a future here' and so on but he he was homesick, you could say.
"More than anything it was the travelling time for him. He wasn't getting to see his parents as much. He just wanted to be closer to his home so that was the major reason for him leaving Penrith."
The brother of Clayton Cup-winning coach and current Leeton Greens hooker Andrew Lavaka, the young gun left Griffith at the age of 14 to pursue his NRL dream.
After winning Australian Schoolboys selection and jumping from the Bulldogs to the Panthers and now to the Eels, Lavaka is now poised to make it a reality.
"I'm 19 now. Within these five years since I left I've definitely become a better person than who I was before," he said.
"I've picked up a very positive attitude. It's been my desire and passion to play rugby league and I'm just trying to fulfill my dreams and get a career in the game."
Few would be brave enough to tell him he can't do it.
"He's very determined to make first-grade. All he ever talks about is how much he wants it," Tartak said.
"We took him to Parramatta because we knew he was going to be happy there and speaking to the coaching staff, there's a massive opportunity there for him."