Had it not been for COVID, a dodgy ankle and the lure of returning home for family reasons, Kerrod Holland could now be plying his trade in the English Super League after five seasons in the NRL with the Bulldogs.
The Macquarie Scorpions are pretty happy he isn't.
Instead of taking up a lucrative three-year deal in England, Holland is playing fullback for the ladder-leading Scorpions and vowing to finish an economics degree as he looks to establish a career as a financial planner.
"It's good being back closer to family mainly and the footy's good - a bit more relaxed," Holland said.
"I'm enjoying it at Macquarie. There is a good bunch of blokes here and we are going all right. We've got high expectations but It's early days. Over the next three weeks, we've got Central, Cessnock and Maitland so that's going to tell us a bit more."
A former Cessnock Goanna and Knights lower-grader, Holland played 71 top-grade games with the Bulldogs after linking with them in 2016 when he was shunned by the Knights. He has no regrets.
"I would have loved to have played at the Knights," he said. "I grew up loving the Knights being a local boy [from Singleton] but the opportunity didn't arise and it came at the Bulldogs.
"After six months down there, I knew I'd made the right decision and I'm glad I got the opportunity. I would have taken one game so five years is a lot more than I could have ever dreamed of.
"It was a great life experience and I'm glad I had a crack. It was some of the best times of my life really."
Holland also doesn't have any regrets about knocking back the Super League deal.
"COVID hit and my wife [Emily] got pregnant with our second child so it wasn't going to work," he said. "Once the circumstances changed with our two little girls and me and Emily being away from home for five years and the body not being able to do what it could when I was younger [he had double ankle surgery in 2018], I made the decision to come home and be closer to family.
"My grandparents, my father-in-law and my sister-in-law live out here at Toronto and with the ties with Steve Kidd being the coach here who coached me at Cessnock and my brother [John] being involved with the club, it just made sense to me to play with the Scorpions."
POINTS TABLE: Macquarie, Central 10; Maitland, Cessnock, Wyong 8; The Entrance 6; Kurri 4; Souths 2; Wests, Lakes 0.
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