Jake Douglas said he "never intended to stay away forever", but time just got away from him.
On Saturday the former Country star will start for Pirates for the first time in almost four years after being named at outside centre for their crucial clash with Narrabri at Dangar Park.
He is a big inclusion for the premiers with the 28-year old arguably the best centre in the zone when he decided to take a break from the game and focus on other pursuits - namely CrossFit.
Douglas had taken it up to keep fit for footy and fell in love with the sport.
As his CrossFit career, and business, took off, footy took a back seat and one season stretched to another.
"I didn't plan on retiring forever," he said.
"It just got away on me."
He still remained around the set-up, running the club's pre-season program, and there were often whispers of a possible return at the start of the season.
But until now they never eventuated to anything, his CrossFit commitments and the season never really aligning.
"I knew that I had a break in my Crossfit and weightlifting after July," Douglas explained.
"I was getting itchy feet so we (Douglas and coach Mat Kelly) spoke about it."
Through unfortunate circumstances, his return came a bit earlier than anticipated - Douglas making his long-awaited return two weeks ago against Scone - with Douglas injuring his elbow training for the Pacific Games where he was to lift for the Australian team.
"I can't lock my elbow out which is a requirement in CrossFit and weightlifting," he said.
Fortuitously for Pirates it doesn't affect his ability to play footy.
Strapping on the boots again was like reacquainting with a long lost friend.
"I missed it," Douglas said, adding that he enjoyed it a lot more than he remembered.
"I just had fun."
And aptly the man they call "Snake" slipped back in seamlessly.
He scored with his first touch and went on to bag a hat-trick in a 25 minute cameo that with good reason has Kelly excited.
"It didn't look like he'd been away for four years," he said.
"He looked very sharp."
"Hopefully, and most likely, he's only going to get better."
But it's not just what he brings to the team in terms of skills.
Kelly said his energy has rubbed off on his team-mates and added "a fair bit of life into the group".
For Douglas it's also a way of keeping fit while he waits to see what happens with his elbow.
He still harbours ambitions of representing his country.
"The goal is still to lift in Australia," he said.
"In CrossFit it's to go as far as I can. I've ticked all the boxes bar one - that's the CrossFit games."
For now though he's happy being back in the gold and black.
He comes into the starting side with Mitch Dening unavailable through suspension and Andrew Mepham away.
Ironically the last time he started for Pirates was against the Blue Boars in the 2015 preliminary final at Narrabri.
He'll be hoping for a different result on his return with a loss putting a dent in their hopes of hosting a final.
"We know we've got to win and win well," Kelly said.
"We're going out there with that mindset."
He spoke about needing to "play footy for 80 minutes".
"We haven't played a full game this season," he said.
Amos Ioasa will also make his first starting appearance this season with half-back Jackson Sharpe out injured.