Kieran Fisher has relinquished one great love of his life in order to devote more time to his greatest love: family.
But just in case the newly retired North Tamworth Bear finds his will wilting as the footballer inside him stirs, he plans to stay away from Jack Woolaston Oval "as much I can" before June 30 - the deadline for player registrations for the 2020 season.
"I'll come down as a fan and heckle the lads after then so I can't sign anything," said the 31-year-old, who last year piloted the Bears from halfback to a record sixth-straight premiership and a third Clayton Cup (he was part of the side's 2014 Cup triumph). He wore the No 7 in all six titles.
Fisher - awarded life membership at Norths in 2019 as recognition for 10 years service at the club - retired following last year's grand final defeat of the Roosters.
"I sort of decided that's enough," he said. "Also, the wife and I talked about havin' our third child, and then it happened. So, that also added to the decision [to retire]. It was time, he said, "to let some others have a crack - some youngsters".
Uncompromisingly tough on the field, Fisher was a puppy dog off it as he doted after his two children, Charlotte, 2, and Teddy, 10 months, at Marsupial Park on Sunday morning. He and his wife, Sammy, are expecting their third child.
Just fate. I put it down to fate, really.Kieran Fisher
Fisher thanked Sammy for supporting him as he helped create history in Bear land. He believes fate played a role in him meeting her and being part of Group 4's pre-eminent dynasty. He and Sammy have been together since 2011, and were married in 2015
"Just fate. I put it down to fate, really: right place at the right time," he said of meeting Sammy. "[I] asked to take her out on a date and picked her up from her parents' house in me ute, and we went on a date and just clicked from there. It was a bit old school, really."
Old school is an apt way to describe how Fisher played rugby league: nothing fancy - just a solid skill set, grit and, like the Bears, a winner's mentality.
"It's the right blokes coming together at the right time," he said of Norths' golden reign, "and good coaches and good people around the club. It's a good place to play footy."
Fisher, a powerline worker at Essential Energy, began playing rugby league at age four. He said his late father, Colin, who was better known as Skeeter, instilled in him a love of the game. Skeeter died in 2006, the year Fisher played first grade at West Tamworth, who lost to Norths in the grand final that year.
Fisher joined Norths in 2007, and played for Bendemeer in the now-defunct second division the following year, before enlisting in the Navy. Upon returning to Tamworth, he rejoined the Bears in 2011 - and there he remained. "It's hard to give it [footy] away," he said.
Fisher thanked Norths coach Brad "Spitter" McManus for believing in him. It was the start of the 2014 season and McManus told him it was his "team to control now", Fisher recalled.
"And, yeah, he really filled me with confidence, and I don't think I've looked back, or doubted myself since that time."
McManus described Fisher's departure as a "massive loss", while Bears president Jodie Cooper said Fisher would be "sorely missed". "He's been a great clubman, a good footballer ... he's a great person," Cooper said.