IF a week is a long time in rugby league, try 12 months.
One year ago Al Lantry had finished up his sole season as captain-coach of Cessnock, narrowly avoided the wooden spoon and he was ready to "retire".
Fast forward to now and the Adamstown Heights 31-year-old has a new home at Western Suburbs, a new lease on playing footy and is just one win away from a Newcastle Rugby League grand final.
"It's a complete backflip on where I thought I'd be," Lantry said.
"To be honest, after last year I was hating footy and I almost retired.
"Luckily [Wests coach] Matt Lantry threw me a lifeline and it's been great. Completely stress free and I'm loving footy again.
"I feel fresh, I've picked up a few things about my game and now I reckon I've got a few more years left in me."
Lantry said the likes of Wests captain Mark Taufua and front-rower Tama Koopu "welcomed" him to the club at the start of this season.
He was also grateful for the opportunity with the Rosellas given his injury-riddled campaign in 2018 and having returned home from two years travelling before that.
"I broke my shoulder three times in the one year last year and only played two games," Lantry said.
"And at my age not too many coaches would have necessarily taken me on."
Lantry's had "no issues" with that complaint in 2019 and outside a separate stint on the sidelines in June, he has played 11 matches in the top grade for Wests en route to a minor premiership.
However, the ultimate goal remains to break a grand final duck at McDonald Jones Stadium later this month.
Lantry has lost all nine senior deciders he has played, including five with Cessnock (four in first grade), two with Singleton (one in firsts) and another with English club Leigh East in 2015.
"Hopefully it's lucky number 10," he said.
"I've only ever known what it's like to be on the other side of a grand final. There's a long way to go [this year] before that's even a possibility, but it would be nice to win one."
Lantry said there has also been a healthy competition for spots internally at Harker Oval.
"You've only got to look at our reserve grade squad to see who has missed out," he said. "You can't afford to have an off game."
Wests have named 18 players, including versatile forward Lantry on the bench, for this weekend's major semi with one to be omitted. Sam Keenan is a reserve with Chad O'Donnell at fullback and Ryan Walsh partnering brother Luke in the halves.
Central coach Phil Williams is hopeful of remaining unchanged from Sunday's 30-24 qualifying semi-final win over defending champions Souths at Maitland.