Tyler Randell simply didn't want to miss a season.
While many other high profile players have opted to have the year off or sign up elsewhere after Newcastle Rugby League cancelled their main premiership last month and made the men's open grade an amateur competition, the former NRL and English Super League hooker couldn't imagine any more time away from the game.
With the 2020 campaign already delayed three months because of the coronavirus crisis, the 27-year-old won't be sidelined anymore when he lines up for new club the Goannas against Maitland at Cessnock Sportsground in Saturday's first round.
"I just wanted to play," Randell told the Newcastle Herald. "I guess it's just going to training and playing on the weekend and the feeling you get from doing that. I've been doing it since I was five or six years old. I've always been around footy. I'm not sure what I would have done for the rest of the year and if I didn't play, do you fall out of the game all together?"
The former Newcastle Knights player, along with wife Kelsey and their three children, arrived back at home in Fern Bay towards the end of last year following a UK stint with Wakefield.
"At the start I was looking forward to a bit of a break from footy and was enjoying it," he said. "But the longer the COVID lockdown went for the more I was missing it."
Randell, who initially joined Maitland before switching to Cessnock during the off-season, is now working in a Hunter mine.
He returns to the Goannas and opens against the Pickers, who have their top squad playing in the newly formed NSW Rugby League's President's Cup, a decade after crossing paths with the same clubs in the 2010 Newcastle RL grand final.
Elsewhere in round one and Harker Oval will be inspected on Saturday morning following wet weather this week. Wests are due to host Lakes with both squads shaping up strongly.
Sunday sees outside back Jake Maizen return to Central from Sydney club St Mary's when the Butcher Boys welcome Souths to St John Oval. Grant Anderson joins the Charlestown club this season along with fellow Knights lower grader Zac Hosking.
Kurri Kurri recently dropped down to tier two and Macquarie didn't enter a senior side for 2020.
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