Tori Freeman-Quay headed overseas "to see the world and still play the game you love".
However, what the 26-year-old Souths forward didn't expect during his recent stint at French club Saint-Gaudens Bears was a sense of "leadership" that comes with being an Australian player in the Elite One Championship.
"Players looked towards you more being the import and just trying to help them where I could in terms of developing their game," Freeman-Quay said.
The stay, alongside fellow Newcastle Rugby League player Sam Keenan, was cut short because of the global coronavirus pandemic but Freeman-Quay said he would consider returning to Europe if another opportunity arose down the track.
"It's a good chance to see the world and still play the game you love," he said.
"I know it may seem out of a lot of people's comfort zone but it is a very good opportunity if anyone was looking at doing it."
The competition was initially suspended in March before being cancelled the following month because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Freeman-Quay, who mainly lined up at lock or second-row, said the Bears were in a position to "still make the finals". They had also qualified for the Lord Derby Cup semis.
"It was definitely a good experience. It was just unfortunate it got cut short," he said.
Freeman-Quay, who travelled home around four months ago and underwent 14 days of isolation, considered not playing at all in 2020 with the Newcastle RL season delayed, shortened and now amateur.
The plumber, who now lives nearby Townson Oval in Merewether, had a change of heart and his clearance from Saint-Gaudens came through this week.
"I was going to give it a miss because it was a shorter season, but I went down and watched the boys the other day and thought I'd put the boots on," he said.
It means the one-time Raiders under-18 representative, 2017 NSW Country under-23 player of the year and former Knights reserve-grade squad member is free to play for the Lions against Central Coast newcomers Wyong at Morry Breen Oval on Sunday.
"I imagine they'll be pretty strong and they knocked off Wests on the weekend," he said.
Souths have split results in the opening two rounds, defeating Cessnock 12-8 at home on Saturday after being edged out 22-16 by Central Newcastle at St John Oval on July 19.
"It was a bit slow to start with, but it's all good now," he said.
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