Back at North Tamworth where his first-grade career began, Josh Schmiedel doesn't know how long he will keep playing. But at age 32, after some 15 years of top-grade footy in Tamworth, Newcastle and Aberdeen, that day seems to loom large on his horizon.
He doesn't want to overstay his welcome, his exit preceded by a marked form deterioration. Alternatively, he doesn't want to leave too early.
He "feels older" than 32, and knows his best days are behind him.
However, the muscular second-rower is still an imposing physical specimen, whose right-edge play shapes as one of the upcoming season's most anticipated sights.
"This is where my footy career started," he said. "So I've always wanted to try and get back, I guess, before my footy gets into those older years and I'm not playing as good as I'd like to."
"I'm stating to lose a bit of speed and a bit of agility, but I think my experience will get me through a little bit," he added.
Schmiedel takes pride in his league achievements, which includes NSW Country selection in 2015 and 2016, a seven-year stint with the Macquarie Scorpions in the Newcastle competition and being named Newcastle rep player of the year in 2015.
In 2017 and 2018, he played for the Aberdeen Tigers in Group 21. The side won the premiership in 2017 and were minor premiers last season, but the Scone Thoroughbreds beat them 10-6 in a grand final classic.
Bears No.1 Chris Hunt and Kooty enforcer Chris Vidler were his teammates in 2017.
On Saturday at Jack Woolaston Oval, Schmiedel will play a trial for the Bears against Aberdeen.
In Group 4, he won premierships with Norths in 2005, 2006 and 2007, and was named the Group's player of the year in 2007 and 2008. He played for Gunnedah in 2008.
His great mate, Bears prop Shane Wadwell, is bemused Schmiedel never played NRL.
"I had a few opportunities when I was a bit younger," Schmiedel said. "I signed with West Newcastle [the Rosellas] when I was 18 but I never went down, I hung back here.
"Even when I got to Newcastle, I got asked to go and play NSW Cup for the Knights. But it was when it was a bit later in my career and I just thought ... I have the family and they come first. "
When Schmiedel looks back at his career, the memory of playing first grade at Norths with his father, Mick, remains powerful.
His father - a former Greater Northern Tiger who went on to have a successful multi-club coaching career and who served as Group 4 president - was in his mid-30s when Schmiedel debuted in first grade. They played together in 2004 and 2005, with Mick a hooker and his son used as a lock, five-eighth and rake.
Schmiedel described the experience as "unbelievable". "It's still one of my highlights."