Harry Mills is the last man standing - the sole survivor from the Tamworth Magpies team who lost to Coffs Harbour in last season's preliminary final.
Mills is also a fortunate man: his partner, Paige Leonard, plays for the Magpies women.
He said it was good "to have that whole female side" at the Magpies.
"I was talking to the boys ... about how important football clubs were back in the day - between knowing people, to getting a job, or meeting your future partner - that's always a big one," the prop said.
Leonard had played league tag for Werris Creek. Mills said he had "tried to drag her across" to union "for a few years" before she finally took the plunge.
"She enjoys the tackle," said the player who made his top-grade debut in 2019.
Mills' employer, Mitch Hanlon of Mitchel Hanlon Consulting, is Tamworth's president.
He landed the environmental consultancy job after competing his environmental science degree at the University of New England.
"We had a chat at football one day, I'd finished my degree and here I am," he said of securing his first job.
Mills views Tamworth's extraordinary player drain this year as a positive, ahead of the side's season opener against St Albert's College at Rugby Park on Saturday afternoon.
"It's great to have a young team, it's great to have new faces and new challenges," he said.
Tamworth coach Peter Burke said he had lost a host of rugby league players and Fijians, who played for the Magpies last season when other competitions were cancelled due to COVID-19.
"Last year we were one of the few shows operating in town - everyone came from everywhere to play for us," he said.
He added: "It's a new unit [this year]. But in saying that, I'm very confident in their skill level."
Tamworth's entire backline will be making their first-grade debut on Saturday.
"So it's an exciting time for the club," Burke said. "These guys are gonna get their opportunities."