Moree-born and Tamworth-raised Brad Tighe arrived in Newcastle as a teenager chasing a rugby league dream.
One the former Hunter Sports High School student fufilled for a decade over 171 NRL games at the Knights, Penrith Panthers and Gold Coast Titans.
These days, having finished professionally and preparing for this weekend's Newcastle first grade grand final with Western Suburbs, the now 35-year-old provides support and mentoring for young Indigenous boys in similar scenarios to his own via the national Clontarf Foundation (CF).
Having worked at independent Kirinari Hostel in Garden Suburb upon returning to the Hunter in 2016, Tighe started a full-time role this year running a CF academy at Newcastle High School alongside Daniel Fitzhenry.
Sometimes it involves morning trips to the beach, other times it means ensuring food is ready to make toasted sandwiches and ultimately it's about Aboriginal kids completing secondary studies or providing pathways for alternative options.
"Looking back it's something I wish I could have had when I came through," Tighe told the Newcastle Herald.
"It's something I've always wanted to be involved with and I really enjoy it. Helping our boys who move away from home for footy and school like I did all those years ago."
On the field and Tighe continues to ply his trade with Wests, but after four campaigns back with his former club he may call full-time on a top career after Sunday's decider against Cessnock at McDonald Jones Stadium.
If so, the centre has a chance to retire after claiming his maiden major premiership in senior footy.
The last time he tasted success at season end was alongside current Wests coach Matt Lantry when playing together in the Knights' junior representative ranks as part of the Harold Matthews and SG Ball competitions.
"It would be a good way to finish," Tighe said.
"If it's my last game, which it more than likely will be, to win a premiership would be pretty special.
"That was always the goal when I came back here [Wests], to win a grand final."
"Compared to 2017, when we got knocked off by Macquarie, this feels different," he said.
"I was at fullback, which I wasn't used to, and we've all moved on from that."
Tighe is one of five former NRL players, including captain Luke Walsh and outgoing Mark Taufua, lining up for the Rosellas.
"It's the best side I've played in since I've been back [at Wests post NRL]."