Corey Harawira-Naera wants to repay Canberra's faith in him before returning to the tools this summer with those who helped him through his darkest days.
Harawira-Naera's 2020 rollercoaster is 80 minutes away from ending in an NRL grand final, after at one point staring down an entire season out of the game.
Deregistered by the NRL in March for his role in the Canterbury sex scandal, Harawira-Naera had all but given up hope of playing again in 2020.
He engaged in talks with the Raiders about a possible return, but did not believe there was any chance it could come this season.
Eventually, his deregistration was overturned, before a drawn-out negotiation with the Bulldogs to be released from his contract for an immediate exit for Canberra.
"It's pretty crazy. I couldn't have imagined (I'd be playing finals football) four or five months ago," the 25-year-old told AAP.
"I thought best-case was a year off. Never did I think it was going to be this year.
"It was a bit of a mess early on but once I heard that Canberra were going to be keen it was quite an easy decision."
A Kiwi Test star, Harawira-Naera was almost an 80-minute player last year starting for the Bulldogs.
But after 11 months between games, he has only had limited bench time at Canberra this year.
"I'm not going to kick stones if I only play five minutes (against Melbourne in Friday's preliminary final)," Harawira-Naera said.
"Whatever Rick wants out of me is what I'll get. All I can do is try and impress him with whatever time I do get.
"I was kicking stones a few weeks ago but then you think about it. I could still be landscaping in 30-degree heat.
"I was happy to work for the rest of the year, but obviously it doesn't compare to trying to win premierships."
Not that Harawira-Naera is opposed to returning to landscaping in the heat of the summer.
He has previously spoken at length about the mental demons he battled in his three months in limbo.
But he now credits his time with Dredge Brothers landscaping in south-west Sydney for helping his life get back on track after a friend set him up with a job.
One day became two, before he eventually began working close to full weeks and some Saturdays.
"For the first two months when I got deregistered I was just drinking and stuff," Harawira-Naera said.
"Then I got hold of a mate who helped me out with it.
"It helped me de-stress. It did help."
Which is why he intends on returning to help again this summer.
"It'll be grounding," he said.
"I will probably go back and do a bit of work with them in the off-season to try and stay busy.
"At the moment we're not going to be back until January so I will go back and do that."