Blake Ayshford was meant to be playing in Super League this season.
The new Warriors centre, who completed his second match for the Auckland club last night against the Broncos, had decided to head to the Northern Hemisphere after a difficult spell at Cronulla.
He had all but signed before the late offer from the Warriors came through.
"I was really close," admitted Ayshford. "I spoke to a couple of English clubs and I was almost there. I had some minimum wage offers from NRL clubs but I wanted to get out of Sydney.
"Then the Warriors deal was on the table. I was still going to Super League in my mind but someone said to me 'If you go there you won't come back'. I'm happy that I stayed."
It's the latest chapter in a rollercoaster career. Ayshford was a young gun, part of the 2007 Junior Kangaroos team that also included Will Chambers, Michael Jennings and Trent Hodkinson. In 2009 he came into grade as a 21-year-old at the West Tigers and soon made his mark, scoring eight tries in 15 games. He was ever present over the next two seasons, as the Tigers finished in the top four each year with an exciting brand of attacking football.
"In 2009 we just missed out on the eight," said Ayshford. "Then in 2010 and 2011 we went deep into the finals and I was thinking 'how good is this, it's going to be like this forever'."
Unfortunately it wasn't. The Tigers went downhill after that season, and so did Ayshford, playing just six games in two seasons.
"I got a bit complacent at the Tigers but then I thought I found some form there again," said Ayshford. "Then there was a lot of drama there that you still read about these days."
He moved to the Sharks, but his arrival coincided with the Peptides scandal.
"I got to Cronulla and the coach was sacked and the assistant coach quit," said Ayshford. "It was a tough season; I wasn't playing well but a lot of players weren't playing that well."
Last year was even worse, as Ayshford played just four games.
"I didn't make the team in round one," explained Ayshford. "I fought hard and got my spot back. I played three or four games and then got injured. By the time I was back they were on a five-game winning streak."
The 27-year-old admits he stopped enjoying his football, and only started to get his love for the game back playing NSW Cup last year. But he was disillusioned with the Sydney goldfish bowl and keen to escape.
Ayshford's deal wasn't universally celebrated by Warriors fans. Some welcomed the move, adding experience (126 NRL games) to a green back division, but others questioned the need for a player who has struggled for consistent form since 2012.
"I've got a lot to prove but not really to anyone else," said Ayshford. "Just to the coaches, those who put their trust in me and to myself. I couldn't really care about what anyone else says. It's the guys in the room with me on the Monday morning reviewing the game that I care about - those 25 players. I want their approval; I want them to want to play football with me."