ACT Brumbies second-rower Jordan Smiler will go into his unexpected Super Rugby campaign with a "get on with it" attitude after turning his back on France to put family first.
Smiler could easily be eating snails in France instead of slogging his way through a pre-season campaign after signing a deal with second division team Nevers last year.
But a Brumbies lifeline and a hunger for success is driving the unflappable 30-year-old as he aims to make his mark with whatever opportunity he gets.
"All I can worry about is what I can do - I'll do my best at training and that's all you can do," Smiler said.
"There's no point whinging if you're not starting, you just get on with the job and play your role for the team.
"I could have very easily be playing and very settled in France right now. But it didn't happen because it wasn't the right timing so that's gone now, and the focus is on here."
Smiler walked away from his deal with Nevers when his father got ill and son Keanu was diagnosed with a form of epilepsy.
His rugby future was up in the air until the Brumbies offered him a chance to re-sign on a two-year deal.
But that's just the start of his winding journey to the 2016 season. Wife Stacey and Keanu have been based in Hong Kong since August last year while Stacey finishes studying.
In the past six months Smiler has seen his two biggest supporters for a total of just four weeks.
But much like his rugby career, the hard-working and versatile big man has simply put his head down and pushed forward.
The next step is a trial match against the NSW Waratahs in Wagga on Saturday and a chance to press his claims to be a part of the rotation in a Wallabies-laden forward pack.
"Stacey was actually the one who was saying, 'you've been playing so well, do you really want to go to France now'. I knew it would be a gamble if I left," Smiler said.
"But I also knew if I stayed I'd still be in that No. 2 spot behind [Scott Fardy], and he's coming off a great campaign in the World Cup.
"For me, I've just got to be good enough to play whatever is thrown at me. I'm not worried about where I play or if I'm starting, it's just taking the opportunity in front of me.
"It's been a process ... Keanu and Stacey will be back in the middle of April. That's tough, but we've got some goals we'd like to achieve as a family and it's the old saying - short term pain for long-term gain."
Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham is set to rest a host of Wallabies stars from the trial against the Waratahs, opening the door for players to impress.
Co-captains Stephen Moore and Christian Lealiifano will likely be left out of the game-day squad, with Matt Toomua and Jarred Butler looming as leadership candidates.
The Brumbies are planning to expand their game plan this year to be more attacking and to keep opponents guessing on their tactics.
"Last year our game plan was simple, everyone knew what we were doing. Our plan was to out-work teams, which worked well but obviously not good enough," Smiler said.
"It's going to be more running, different patterns and the boys will get a chance to showcase their skills. It's going to be good to watch and good to play.
"Boys can get stuck in that habit of being robotic and doing the same thing. But now they can express themselves and show their skills."