It didn't work out at the St George Dragons, but Tyrese Dungay hopes his return to Port City Breakers will be the detour he needs to take to chase his National Rugby League dream.
The young tyro trained with the Dragons for a couple of months in the 2022 pre-season, but when he wasn't offered a full-time contract he had a decision to make.
Stay in Sydney and continue to make the five-hour return trip from Penrith for training four days a week or come home.
"If I stayed down there I wasn't allowed to come back home and play for the Breakers of a weekend ... I had to stay and play in that area," he said.
Being away from home required challenges to be overcome and with only a small support crew around, it was an easy decision.
After three months, the young forward felt like he was being kept as "a just in case" player to fill spots if injuries or unavailabilities occurred.
He was in the Dragons' 25-man squad, but with it came no guarantee of a full-time contract.
"If you're in the squad you could be in the 17 or you could be down there for two or three months or you could be 18th man," he said.
"You could just be training with the team and sitting on the bench, but a contract would have made a difference because I would have known I was wanted."
The partnership Canterbury-Bankstown has started to form with the Mid North Coast through the North Coast Bulldogs representative program provided Dungay with another path to follow.
He acknowledged that had made the decision to return home an easier one.
"The North Coast Bulldogs system gives me an option and another pathway now," he said.
"I got a phone call asking if I wanted to help their under-18 side and I played off the bench because they didn't want to push me in front of other players."
With the help of experienced heads at the Breakers in Dan Dumas, Richie Roberts and Chris Piper, Dungay will have some motivated people in his corner.
"Having Richie, Pipes and Dumas there helping me will help me. They said they're going to push me which is good," he said.
"I'm willing to work my hardest to get there and I know I need to improve my fitness, but I've got all the skills so I don't need any more of them."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.