Robbie Farah was so desperate to finish on the right note at the Wests Tigers he was happy to give up a spot at a Rabbitohs side being judged genuine premiership threats despite no guarantee of being at Concord past the final round of the regular season.
Farah, of course, is hoping to be part of a mid-season rejuvenation in Ivan Cleary's side along with fellow mid-season recruit Moses Mbye and says if they can rediscover their early-season defensive grind and add a touch more attacking cohesion, they can make the top eight.
But for Farah - whose was last seen as a Tiger on the Leichhardt Oval scoreboard at the end of the 2016 season, having been dumped by then-coach Jason Taylor to the Intrust Super Premiership - the chance to finish up on the right note at the club he loves was worthwhile and to get his first game back at Leichhardt Oval where he grew up playing makes it even sweeter.
"Not in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be playing another [home] game at Leichhardt," Farah said on Tuesday. Coach Ivan Cleary has named him in the No.9 jersey for this Sunday's clash with the Gold Coast.
"One of the biggest regrets at the time was not getting the last game at Leichhardt because I love that place so much, I grew up playing there and I never thought I'd get another chance. For me this Sunday will be a nice day, I'll have a lot of family and friends out there, I'm sure it will be a big crowd and hopefully some good weather.
The return of Robbie
Next season had not even been a factor in the discussions, he said.
"I don't know [about next year] to be honest; speaking with Ivan, he couldn't really guarantee me anything for next year and I was totally fine with that.
"I'm just really focused on giving this last 10 weeks everything I've got then see what happens, see how the body's feeling, see if I'm playing good footy, if the team's playing good footy. If this is going to be it, I just want to enjoy the last 10 weeks.
"We didn't even speak about it being an option, there's no point dealing in hypotheticals I guess. A lot can happen between now and the end of the season, we'll see what happens but if it is to be the end of the year I'd be content ripping in and giving everything I've got and finishing up."
Farah said there had been plenty of emotions once the deal was finally secured, which included elation at a return to the Wests Tigers and to playing regular NRL, a feeling that he was letting his old Souths teammates down and gratitude to Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold for making good on a promise not to stand in his way if a deal came up.
"I've been training with the boys but when I put that Tigers jersey on and run out there especially at Leichhardt this week, my spiritual home ground, a place where I grew up playing and a place I love so much. When Sunday comes and I pull that jersey on I think that's when it will sink in," Farah said.
"I can't speak highly enough of Seebs and what he's doing there and what he's done for me... you feel like you're letting the boys at Souths down because you've left. They all understood and were real supportive of my move.
"The reality was, I wasn't part of the best 17 Seebs was picking every week. Hypothetically I could have found myself in a team that could potentially win a grand final but as well I could have finished my year down there in reserve grade as well.
"I felt like while I wasn't playing I was really part of the group and really contributing to the group day to day in terms of the preparation for the games. If it was another club I probably would have knocked that back but coming back to the Tigers was something I couldn't say no to."
Farah was excited to rejoin long-time Tigers teammate Benji Marshall as well as fellow 2005 premiership-winners Brett Hodgson and John Skandalis, who both work at the club. He was particularly excited to reunite with 2014 Origin teammate Josh Reynolds as well as the chance to form a new-look spine with Reynolds and Mbye.
"The playing group's a lot different to when I was last here, that's exciting as well. For me and Moses [Mbye] to come in, in two key positions, hopefully we can come in and adapt well to what the team's been doing and help them in those key areas," he said.
"It's been a complete transformation [for the club in 2018], I think everyone that's watched the Tigers this year will tell you they're a team with a lot of grit, lot of effort."
Best tries of the 2018 season
Another key part of Farah's role will be to mentor young hooker Jacob Liddle, who is seen as the club's long-term No.9 but who has struggled, coming off twin off-season shoulder reconstructions followed by a cracked sternum.
"Jakey's a kid I've got a lot of time for, he was here coming through the grades when I was here last," Farah said.
"By me coming back this year it allows the club to be a bit more patient with him and give him a bit more time to develop and for me I've got a big job to help him develop and hopefully he can watch myself at training, the way a senior player prepares week in week out and I'll try and give him as much knowledge as I can so I won't have to hang around for too much longer and he can step in."
Best hits of the 2018 season