Shane Wadwell is adamant: 2019 is his swansong year - no ifs, ands or buts about it.
A year after Wadwell revealed that he had defied his wife's wishes by playing last season, the 32-year-old father of three is about to enter his 10th straight season in first grade at Norths - the decade of service earning him life membership at the club. Bears centre Richard Clegg has been there for the entire ride, but no other Bear has.
"I'll finish this year, it's my last year, and that will do me," he said. "So I'm retiring at the end of the year - 100 per cent."
There is a dad's army feel about the Bears' 2019 lineup, what with Wadwell's great friend, former NSW Country rep Josh Schmiedel, 32, rejoining the side this season, along with another ex-Bear and 30-something, former Pirates No.10 Andrew Moodie. The Bears have at least one other 30-something, in Chris Hunt.
In Wadwell's DNA is an era of Tamworth first grade that he says was more physically robust than today's competition.
The front-rower was 17 years old when he debuted in the top grade, at West Tamworth, and he still produces a controlled aggression that makes him a standout.
Wadwell said he "plays with his heart on his sleeve", but was a different person off the field.
On the field, he is the competition's arch-villain.
Ahead of Norths' trial against the Aberdeen Tigers at Jack Woolaston Oval on Saturday, he spoke about how important it is for him to go out a winner. It would be his "dream" to retire having won a sixth straight premiership at Norths.
"I definitely know we've got the team there [to win the title this year]," he said. "[Bears captain-coach] Scott Blanch has got a big job ahead of him ... with 20 to 25 blokes who all can play first grade."
The last time Wadwell and Schmiedel played together was 2009, the former's debut first-grade season at the Bears. While Wadwell was moved from the back-rower to prop last season, and looks heavier than he was in 2017, Schmiedel will be used as a right-edge second-rower this season and remains an imposing physical specimen - rejoining the club after a highly successful stint with Aberdeen in Group 21.
Wadwell was best man at Schmiedel's wedding and "talked" him into coming back to Norths. "He's a monster of a kind of bloke," Wadwell said. "He's very fit looking and solid at the moment."