When Josh Gaynor's phone rang back in October last year, he told Troy Maiden it was a 'no' about a potential return to Wagga Tigers.
Gaynor had been one of Maiden's most loyal servants back when he last coached Tigers and he was one of the first on his list when he returned to the job.
"I always had an inkling that I would love to come back but I knew it was unrealistic with starting a family and being so heavily based in Albury," Gaynor said.
"Pag gave me a call when he first got the job and planted the seed. I told him I was certainly not looking to play in 2019 but I certainly didn't feel my time in footy was finished."
It was then more than six months later that when Gaynor returned for Easter in Wagga that he was lured into playing reserve grade in the Good Friday clash against Turvey Park.
One game with a few mates turned into two and before he knew it, the prospect of him playing seniors was being floated.
"That was the vision, to come back and play a few games of ressies with a few mates," he said.
"Being predominantly backline most of my career, I played a couple of games down forward for the ressies and Pag saw that as a possibility in seniors in a position he might not have been able to fill within the club at the time.
"I probably fell into a niche that he was looking for. He dropped the hint, gave me a few weeks to think about it and I certainly had to go away and do a fair bit of work to make that worthwhile for everybody."
Gaynor, 32, made the decision to play seniors and it is one that he does not regret.
"Going into it, I certainly had my reservations for that reason. I certainly wanted to make sure that the position I was going into, I wanted to be able to fulfil to the best of my ability and to be able to play a role that was going to benefit the team," he said.
"I didn't want to be seen as just a returning player, being a more mature player just getting a spot just because of experience. I wanted to earn my spot.
"I've absolutely loved it. Every time I walk in the change room I reel rejuvenated by the enthusiasm of the youth in the side."
Gaynor was part of Tigers premiership team in 2007. He co-coached Tigers in 2010, before moving to Albury.
He lost the 2013 grand final at Albury Tigers but won a reserve grade premiership the next year. He coached Henty to the Hume League grand final in 2015 but lost and is hoping to add another win to his collection on Saturday.
Gaynor would have loved to have run out alongside his younger brother Pat, but he sustained a season-ending knee injury in the qualifying final loss to Griffith.
"It certainly flattened me a fair bit having that be one of the major motivators each week," he said.
"But his attitude and ability to rebound from that has been uplifting for me as well. I was more down in the dumps than he was, which puts it in perspective a bit."
Playing alongside his brother was one of the reasons he came back to Tigers.
"I knew Pat was having a real good year so in the back of my mind I thought if I could slot in for a game or two to be able to play a game with Patty that would be good but I didn't verbalise that to anyone," he said.
"I certainly didn't want to come back to the club to take anyone's spot or anything like that. Obviously in the back of my mind I wanted to play with Patty but I knew the cards would have to fall in the right place for that to happen."