When Paddy Ryan unlaced his boots two weekends ago he thought that was it for footy for a little while.
With his Munakata Sanix Blues side's season over, he was ready for a few months of "domestic duties", as he put it, some study and maybe "a bit of training".
But then Waratahs prop Harry Johnson-Holmes injured his knee, setting in motion a chain of events that would see the Tamworth export winging his way back to Australia and culminate in him making a whirlwind return to Super Rugby.
Seconded on an injury cover contract, the 32-year old will on Saturday night pack down for his first game in the sky blue since 2018, after being named on the bench for their clash with the Hurricanes.
"It's been pretty crazy," Ryan said.
"Quite a whirlwind."
An unexpected postscript, the former Pirate has loved being back around the club he made his Super Rugby debut with back in 2011 and in the ensuing eight seasons went on to earn over 100 caps for.
"It's been special," he said.
"I'm very fortunate to be back and very grateful to [coach] Darren (Coleman) and everyone."
The two have a long association, with the man they call 'DC' coaching Ryan for a number of seasons at the Country Eagles, and had incidentally been having discussions about the possibility of the three-test Wallaby coming back "if something happened".
So when it became apparent that Johnson-Holmes would be out for some time, Coleman reached out.
Watching the game on tv over in Japan, Ryan tuned in just as he went off and initially didn't think too much of it.
"I didn't think it would be anything," he admitted.
But by mid-week the wheels had been put in motion for him to return.
Flying in earlier this week it has been a hectic few days between training and cramming in all the "content and other stuff" he has had to catch up on.
Still carrying that season fitness, that has been the biggest challenge - getting his head around all the plays and calls.
He joked that it felt like the first few days when he first went over to Japan.
"The boys have got the calls down, they all use the same lingo, they're a very tight knit group," Ryan said.
"It was extremely impressive but also amazingly confusing."
Coleman said it has been great having Ryan and Ned Hanigan, who has also returned from Japan, back.
"Both are really proud New South Welshmen, both proud country boys who I have had a long association with, so it was a no brainer bringing them straight in," he said.
"I knew they wouldn't detract from the culture but more so add to it.
"Going into such a big game and having those two on the bench gives us a little more depth and bang at the back half of the game, and I'm excited to see how they go."
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