It was the call Corey Harawira-Naera never expected, but one that dragged the Canberra Raiders recruit out of a dark place.
Now the New Zealand international is thankful for the second chance and already relishing his move to the ACT to join the Green Machine.
His gumboots are quickly becoming a trademark, bringing back memories of Kiwi comic book Footrot Flats.
He'll run out for just his second game in lime green against the club where he began his NRL journey - the ladder-leading Penrith Panthers at Penrith on Saturday night.
It will see him potentially bump heads with great mate and Panthers prop James Fisher-Harris, who will play his 100th NRL game.
Harawira-Naera found himself staring down an NRL abyss earlier this year after the Canterbury Bulldogs tore up his contract.
The fallout after he had sex with a schoolgirl in Port Macquarie in the lead-up to their pre-season trial had him contemplating life as a former professional footballer.
His successful appeal led to his contract being re-instated and the Raiders came calling.
Now he gets the chance to work with Canberra coach Ricky Stuart, who has a growing reputation in helping players get their life back on track following off-field drama.
"I've definitely learnt my lesson. I had a lot of time off and I had a lot of downtime and it made me think about if I actually wanted to keep playing and stuff like that," Harawira-Naera said.
"But to be given a second chance by a really good club that's played in the NRL grand final last year, that sort of got me going.
"Once I heard from my manager that Canberra could be keen on me I was just like, 'Oh whoah'.
"I thought there wouldn't be many clubs that would come near me after what happened.
"The second chance in itself I think that's enough to give back to the club."
MORE RAIDERS NEWS
He's quickly settled in to Canberra, moving in with new teammates Hudson Young and Tom Starling.
He doesn't miss Sydney at all, having grown up in a remote part of New Zealand's North Island - the laid back Canberra lifestyle fits him perfectly. And his gumboots.
"They definitely come out during the wet, but they might even make an appearance in the summer as well," Harawira-Naera laughed.
"Just a fashion statement. Add a bit of flavour.
"Anywhere outside of any city back in NZ everyone wears gumboots or has a pair of gumboots at least."
How exactly he fits in to the Raiders line-up for the rest of the season is a work in progress.
He found himself swapping with Elliott Whitehead between the centres and second-row in his Green Machine debut, but he's also an option to play through the middle having been named on the bench once again.
Harawira-Naera is the considered the long-term replacement for John Bateman, who is returning to Wigan in the English Super League next year.
He's played both on the right and left edge, but felt he was probably more at home on the right - which was where Bateman provided a massive boost last weekend when he made his return from a shoulder injury.
But before Bateman goes, Harawira-Naera wants to soak up as much of the England international as he can.
"I'll make the most of 'Batty' still being here and try and learn a lot out of him," he said.
"He's quite invaluable to be honest. His energy, his competitiveness makes up for his lack of size.
"With most back-rowers and his weight, he's probably one of the lightest back-rowers going around as well.
"That's one thing I want to learn off him is what gets him going because once he's crossed that line he just wants to win and does pretty much everything he can to do that.
"That's something I want to take out of his game and implement into mine."
NRL ROUND 13
Saturday: Canberra Raiders v Penrith Panthers at Penrith Stadium, 7.35pm.
Raiders team: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Jordan Rapana, 3. Jarrod Croker, 4. Curtis Scott, 5. Nick Cotric, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. George Williams, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Siliva Havili, 10. Dunamis Lui, 11. John Bateman, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Hudson Young. Interchange: 14. Tom Starling, 15. Joe Tapine, 16. Ryan Sutton, 17. Corey Harawira-Naera. Reserves: 18. Sam Williams, 19. Michael Oldfield, 20. Kai O'Donnell, 21. Matt Frawley.
Panthers team: 1. Caleb Aekins, 2. Josh Mansour, 3. Brent Naden, 4. Stephen Crichton, 5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, 6. Jarome Luai, 7. Nathan Cleary, 8. James Tamou, 9. Api Koroisau, 10. James Fisher-Harris, 11. Viliame Kikau, 12. Liam Martin, 13. Isaac Yeo. Interchange: 14. Tyrone May, 15. Spencer Leniu, 16. Moses Leota, 17. Zane Tetevano. Reserves: 18. Mitch Kenny, 19. Matt Burton, 20. Billy Burns, 21. Daine Laurie.