Luke Bateman wished he'd played 500 games for the Canberra Raiders, but that's "not how it works out sometimes".
The highly popular Raiders prop has pulled the curtain on his time in lime green and will drive back to his native Queensland on Sunday.
It was a sudden end to his 71-game NRL career, which was hampered by a knee injury for the past 12 months.
Ironically, he's returned to contact training and it was the best it's been since he injured it last season.
But the financial hit the coronavirus pandemic has had on the players' wages - a 20 per cent pay cut - and the fact the Raiders pack was now a tough one to get into made a tough decision a little bit easier.
Plus, he was off-contract at the end of the season and there weren't even any reserve-grade games to look forward to if he didn't make the 17.
He's got a potential job logging pine trees in central Queensland waiting for him if needed, but he was hopeful of getting something in Brisbane.
The 25-year-old said he wasn't retiring and hoped he could play in the NRL again - although he did rule out a bid for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year, having been a promising swimmer when he was young.
"I made the decision myself. I wasn't forced into unemployment," Bateman laughed.
"It was more of a life choice than anything. I just went and had a chat with [Raiders coach Ricky Stuart] and he was, 'Mate, you're one of us. You're a Raider and I'll support if you want to stay and if you want to go I'll support you'.
"Just with the climate of how things are at the moment and the uncertainty around everything, with the pay cut just financially it would've been pretty silly to stay down here.
"Getting a spot in first grade would've been tough. I would've had to wait for injuries or the boys to start losing - and I don't see that happening because they're going so well.
"There's not even a reserve grade to play in so just made the tough call to head home."
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Bateman said he would look to play again in the future, with the Queensland Cup an option if he couldn't get back to the NRL.
He felt he owed a bit to his junior Queensland club.
"I'd love to play NRL again obviously, but if it ended up being at just state cup level I'd be more than happy to do that too," Bateman said.
"I owe the Souths Logan Magpies a few years I think. I'm pretty excited actually ... I've been mulling it over for six months now."
Treasured memories? There was his debut against the Cronulla Sharks in 2015, his first starting jersey at lock against the New Zealand Warriors and being part of the Green Machine's whirlwind 2016 campaign.
They charged into the preliminary final off the back of some exhilarating football with Bateman playing 21 games in his breakthrough season.
But all of those would be trumped by something more memorable.
"When I look back I'll obviously remember playing for the Raiders, but what stands out for me the most is off the field stuff," Bateman said.
"The people I've met and the friends I've made. The good times I've had with my mates and the boys off the paddock."