This time a month ago Brendan Rixon was preparing to pad up for North Tamworth in their first Tamworth first grade cricket grand final in almost a decade.
On Saturday, the multi-talented sportsman was steering Pirates to a 64-5 triumph over Scone to celebrate their return to Ken Chillingworth Oval after almost 20 months.
For Rixon it had been another 12 months on top of that since he had last run onto Pirates home ground, after retiring following their 2018 triumph.
Planning to come back last year before COVID led to the season being abandoned, he said he didn't take much convincing to lace up the boots this season.
"I just enjoy playing with some mates, and the beer in the sheds afterwards is always good," he said.
One of the club's favourite sons, he said it was exciting to pull on the jersey again at Walcha last week, but admitted to a few jitters.
"I was a bit nervous last week actually," he said.
"I was a lot more composed this week, I guess just being back here, as well as shaking off a few cobwebs."
He was also back in a more familiar role, starting at 10 with Andrew Moodie sitting out the game with an ankle niggle.
Against the Rams he played fullback. Customarily featuring more in the midfield, he had played a bit there before but that was back in his junior days.
But he didn't mind it.
And it wasn't too different, the biggest adjustment probably where he needed to be in attack.
"I think that will just come with game time," Rixon said.
He started the points rush against the Brumbies, scoring Pirates' first two tries as they skipped out to a 12-nil lead after just 14 minutes.
The first he finished off a brilliant counter-attack from within their half, Nick McCrohan channeling his inner play-maker and throwing a great floating ball out to Tim Collins. Finding himself in a bit of space, the hooker charged forward about 20m before linking up with winger Oli Wright, who as he was pushed into touch flung the ball back inside for Rixon to pick up the fortuitous bounce.
The second, he sold the dummy and sliced through from about 15m out.
From there they were fairly dominant, albeit not as clinical as they would have liked.
"I didn't think we were great," Rixon said.
"We were good at times but I think we've still got a lot to work on."
Their discipline and ball handling for one.
They "dropped a few pills" and gave away quite a few penalties.
Rixon wasn't able to celebrate the win as he had Norths' presentation.
He was instrumental in the Redbacks winning their first minor premiership since 2015, enjoying a great season with the bat.
He was behind brother Michael the second leading run-scorer for the competition with 477 and a highest score of 96no.
And while they missed out on the main silverware it was a great year for the club too.
"With the bush cricket as well we won three out of the five grades and were in four out of five grand finals so that's pretty amazing for the club and we got the club championship so that's fantastic," Rixon said.
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