Former NZ Warriors fullback Kevin Locke made his first appearance for the Sunshine Coast Falcons in the curtain-raiser to his old club's NRL trial against Melbourne Storm yesterday.
The former Kiwis international hoped to revive his NRL career by spending two months training with Manly late last year, but parted ways with the Sea Eagles, before linking with the Queensland Cup side in December.
The 27-year-old impressed in the Falcons' 10-10 draw with the Redcliffe Dolphins, involving himself on attack and producing two try-saving tackles close to the line, before being rested early in the second-half.
The Falcons are a feeder side to the Storm and Locke is hoping he can string together some consistent performances in the second-tier state competition to put himself in the frame for a possible NRL return with last year's grand finalists.
"Ideally, that is the ultimate goal," said Locke. "I'd love to be part of an organisation like Melbourne.
"This is the closest I'm going to get at the moment, and there's going to be a few blokes out there this afternoon [with the Storm] that will come down and play for us.
"If I'm playing consistent football and giving myself every chance to be picked up there, there's injuries that happen during the season, so you never know what might happen.
"I'll just try and give myself every opportunity to be seen as a consistent footballer and one that can play in the NRL again."
Locke has endured a difficult journey since departing the Warriors in 2014, with controversy following him through short-lived stints with both Salford and Wakefield in the UK Super League.
Last year, the Northcote Tigers junior revealed he had struggled with depression since his teenage years and was doing it tough financially, while working his way back from shoulder surgery.
He is now working part-time in civil construction to supplement his football earnings.
The fact his former Warriors team-mates were warming up just metres away, while he spoke to media on the sidelines was not lost on him, but he remains optimistic about his future while accepting of his past mistakes.
"I actually didn't think too much about it," he said. "That's my old club who I have a lot of respect for and I was very grateful to be able to play for them.
"I can't dwell on the past and my past hasn't been the greatest, but all I can do now is just give myself every opportunity to be back playing in the NRL and I'm grateful to be here with the Falcons.
"It has been tough, but I'm trying to give myself every opportunity to be playing with those blokes out there in the NRL. This is just a step and the next step is hopefully being out there."
Locke wasn't the only former NRL player looking to impress in yesterday's match, with ex-Wests Tigers forward Matt Lodge turning out on the other side of the field for Redcliffe.
Lodge is looking to rebuild his own career, after narrowly avoiding a US jail sentence for a violent rampage in New York in late 2015, but the NRL are unwilling to register him at this stage.
The 21-year-old faced charges for stalking two women and assaulting a man, but in December, was allowed to return to Australia, after accepting a plea deal that required him to complete 200 hours of community service.
Lodge looked well short of a gallop in a mixed performance in the second-half that saw him make several strong runs together with some basic errors.