Having played the first half of the 2016 season, Stephen Widders watched on from Western Australia when Souths broke a 27-year Newcastle Rugby League premiership drought.
Work commitments and injury saw him line up in just a handful of games back for the Lions last year and the Merewether-based club went on the claim a second title in the space of three seasons.
Now, in 2019, Widders has fully returned and the Souths custodian wants to collect a major prize of his own.
"It was bitter sweet seeing them [Souths] win," Widders told the Newcastle Herald.
"It was awesome to see the team and club have success, but at the same time I wish I was playing.
"It makes me a bit more hungry to win a grand final. A few of the boys have won two now and I'd love to win one."
Widders, a Waratah junior who joined Souths in under 17s, enters his third senior finals campaign this weekend having fallen one short of deciders in both 2013 and 2014.
Second-placed Souths tackle in-form Central on Sunday and the 25-year-old said he would be trying and call upon his previous play-off "experience".
The qualifying semi is scheduled for Townson Oval but following wet weather late this week, St John Oval and Cessnock Sportsground could be used as alternate venues.
A decision is expected to be made around lunch time on Saturday.
Widders, who played with the Rockingham Sharks at the back end of 2016, underwent knee surgery the next year and was sidelined for 10 months after tearing his patellar tendon.
The fullback has recovered from the injury in time for 2019, scoring 10 tries from 12 appearances.
"It [my knee] is pretty good now," he said.
"I'm not quite as quick [anymore], but I can still get the job done."
Souths have lost five of their last seven outings, but Widders is confident the Lions can bounce back now the regular rounds have finished.
"We were going to finish outright second for a while and when you're up the top everyone wants to knock you off," he said.
"Everyone is ready to go now and knows what to do."
Souths and Central, who went from last to third with a six-game unbeaten streak to finish the season, are 1-all in prior meetings this year.
Seven players in the Butcher Boys squad for Sunday didn't feature in the opening round defeat against the Lions.
In Saturday's elimination semi-final, Maitland host Cessnock.
Hayden Grainger (concussion) is expected to play hooker for the Pickers, who are missing Geordie Connelly after he was suspended this week for a high tackle.