Souths recruit and former Raider Joe Picker makes a tackle against Manly. Photo: Getty Images
When Joe Picker was training over summer, he was more or less resigned to playing bush footy at Goulburn with his brothers, and spending long days shearing on the family farm.
The former Canberra Raiders back-rower would have been happy with his lot, but then Souths coach Michael Maguire came knocking and his NRL career was revived.
Picker is now playing for a glamour club, rubbing shoulders with superstars such as Greg Inglis and the Burgess boys.
Hailing from the country town of Bigga, which has a population of just 300, it's as far from his comfort zone as he can get.
But he's settled into city life and onto Souths' bench, and is ready to do battle with his old side at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
Younger brother and fellow former Raider Mick will captain-coach Goulburn in the local competition this year.
He jokes Joe is no chance to dominate Sydney's gossip pages as George Burgess does, but he has adapted to hanging out with superstars.
"Some of the stories he tells you, like going to cafes and the Burgess boys being dragged out for photos, it's a different world for him,'' Mick said.
"You play for them against Canberra but, because they're in the papers all the time, they still feel like celebrities.
"I don’t know if he goes for coffees that much, there’s a TAB not far from the training ground and he’d spend a fair bit of time walking down there.''
The 26-year-old was devastated when he was cut by the Raiders after 110 games in seven seasons last year, then was involved in a freak chainsaw accident on the farm.
After he was dumped by the Raiders he said: "I wasn't real pleased with how things ended, but I'm not the only bloke who's got the shaft from there.''
He also accused the club of ''making massive moves to keeps blokes who don't care about the joint''.
Mick is adamant Joe, who married his sweetheart Naomi in October, won't be approaching the match with a point to prove.
"He's not one of those fellas who will get wound up over much,'' Mick said.
"When Joe started training, he thought he was probably going to end up playing for Goulburn, but he's worked hard and loving it down there.
"He loves his footy, don't get me wrong, but if he had to come and work the farm he'd love that.
"But when Souths gave him a call he wasn't exactly about to say no.''
Mick believes Souths' decision to play the hard-working Joe in the middle of the field has helped him flourish.
He has opened a sports store in Crookwell and says his brother's move to Souths may have prompted the locals to embrace the Rabbitohs.
"There's been a lot more Souths gear sold out of the shop than Raiders this year,'' he said. "All the young kids may have jumped ship.''