Just over a month ago, Warriors centre Solomone Kata was seriously contemplating giving the sport away.
At the age of 22, Kata - who played five tests for the Kiwis last year - was thinking about retirement.
He had spent this season struggling with injury and dealing with some off-field issues and it all got a bit too much.
"I'd been thinking about it," Kata told Herald on Sunday. "I was telling my mates, yes I am going to. I was really close; I was going to give up my career, my football. It was really hard, physically and mentally. I had a few problems with myself and my family. "
Before this season, Kata had been one of the brightest lights at the club. He enjoyed an exceptional debut NRL year in 2015, and improved on that last year, with a staggering 15 tries in 21 games, averaging more than 110 running metres a match. While the form of other youngsters at the Warriors yo-yoed, Kata was remarkably solid.
But he has struggled in 2017. He missed most of the pre-season after being on the Kiwis' Four Nations tour, and carried various injuries into this season. Kata also had some personal and family issues to deal with, and everything snowballed into a loss of confidence and form. It was telling. Before last week's match against Penrith, the bulldozing centre has crossed for just one try in 11 matches. His numbers were down, and so was his head.
But he's bounced back now, with one of the turning points his recent trip back to Tonga. It was a dreadfully sad occasion - Kata travelled to be at the funeral of his older brother Tevita - but also a crucial time. Kata spent almost two weeks at home, on remote Vava'u island, a 24 hour ferry ride from Nuku'alofa. He had some much needed family time, and long conversations with his parents.
"It was really good to be back home, seeing the family and start again," said Kata, who has nine brothers and three sisters. "It was really important for me and my career, to go back and get some advice about everything from my parents and remember where I have come from. Before I went things were hard. [There were] too many things on my mind and I couldn't handle it. [It] was affecting my football, I wasn't enjoying coming to training so I thought maybe I will do my own thing."
Kata also sought the counsel from Warriors' coach Stephen Kearney.
"He gave me some help and advice," said Kata. "He told me to keep working on things and try and take the load off your shoulders."
"It's been pretty complicated for Sol," admitted Kearney. "It has been a big change for him. Going on the [Kiwis] tour last year, you don't get a full pre-season and then he had injuries hanging around and a bit of illness. His whole family network is still back in Tonga and he has had a lot of changes to deal with here, and done well."
Kata says the Panthers clash felt like the start of a new season. He certainly looked like the Kata of old, powering across for two tries and carrying for 150 metres, only the fifth time he has exceeded 100 running metres in 2017.
Kata has been below par this year, but also perhaps a victim of the high standards he has set. With his dazzling ascent in the NRL - he was close to the Warriors' best player last season and scored 27 tries in his first 45 NRL matches - it was easy to forget just how far he had come. He barely spoke English just three or four years ago, and the transition from island life on Vava'u to the bustling metropolis of Auckland, via a 1st XV rugby scholarship, was massive.
Now, hopefully, another chapter is about to begin for Kata.
"I feel like I have got my confidence back now," said Kata. "I'm looking forward to the rest of the season."