IN THE END, it was an easy decision for Kurri Kurri Bulldogs player Jarred Anderson.
Travelling back and forth from Heddon Greta to Canterbury wasn't all that appealing anymore in pursuit of a professional rugby league career.
Especially surrounding the arrival of, now almost six-month-old, daughter Kallie.
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"It wasn't a hard decision," Anderson, who turns 22 next weekend, told the Newcastle Herald.
"I was going to and from Sydney all the time because we were living in Heddon Greta. I was playing with Canterbury and working down there as well so I would only see my family [partner Madi and Kallie] at the end of every weekend and for a night or two during the week.
"It's been so much better now [back at home]. It's more my lifestyle. That high level football isn't for everyone and it wasn't for me.
"I couldn't give up family for football. It's all about priorities and family is definitely number one."
It has been quite the ride for Maitland-born Anderson, also a Raymond Terrace junior, since he last played at Kurri in under 18s.
The former Hunter Sports High School student spent three seasons at the Sydney Roosters, featuring the national under-20 title in 2016, and represented Scotland at the 2017 World Cup.
"The level of footy [at the World Cup] was an eye opener," he said. "It's something I'll always remember."
Anderson then signed a three-year deal with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and played 10 games of NSW Cup in 2018.
He underwent pre-season training at Belmore Sportsground but opted to move back home in 2019 and linked with the Newcastle Knights for a couple of early NSW Cup fixtures.
However, Anderson eventually settled with the Bulldogs at Kurri Kurri after taking up a job at Rutherford with an eye towards starting a plant mechanic apprenticeship.
Kurri coach Ron Griffiths has certainly enjoyed having him at the Coalfields club.
"A gifted athlete with a competitive streak," Griffiths said.
"He rings confidence to those around him. He has an innate ability to lift those he plays alongside by his actions."
Anderson's first match for Kurri this year was a 38-16 loss to Wests in round two.
"It was awesome," Anderson said.
"We lost and everybody else was disappointed, but I was so happy. It was the most I'd enjoyed my footy in ages."
Anderson, who has mainly played second-row this season, returns from suspension and has been named in the centres for Saturday's clash with second-placed Souths at Kurri Sportsground.
It shapes as "must win" for the Bulldogs, who sit one point outside the top five.
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