The Kiwis rugby captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak admits he considered quitting rugby league during a messy 2019 before regaining his love for the sport at Canterbury.
The New Zealand skipper is racing the clock to be fit for end-of-year Test football after minor post-NRL season surgery on his knee.
He'll meet with Bulldogs officials on Wednesday to determine if he puts himself forward for the Kiwis' clashes with Australia and England.
If Watene-Zelezniak does return for the national side it would be a fitting reward, given his rebound from a tough early NRL campaign with Penrith to shine at Canterbury.
The Panthers junior spent almost a month on the sidelines as he considered an exit from the club in late May.
"I have a really good support network with my family ... without them I was ready to throw it in," he said.
"I was over it. It was tough times. I wasn't loving it and then I went to the Bulldogs and I realised why I loved the game.
"All I've really known is football but at that point of time, where I sat out from the club, it was pretty tough."
It was no coincidence Canterbury's fortunes also took a turn for the better when Watene-Zelezniak arrived.
One of New Zealand's best on last year's tour of England, his slickness at fullback gave their backline something to add to Will Hopoate's prowess at centre.
Watene-Zelezniak says beyond manager Tyran Smith, it was his wife who guided him in the direction of the Bulldogs ahead of other options.
"The fresh start for me was something I needed. It helped me a lot," he said.
"It opened my eyes a bit. I grew up in Penrith and have been there my whole life. It was scary at the start, I didn't know what to expect.
"I have two kids and a wife, I didn't know what was going to happen and what was out there for me. I had clubs interested in me and I am very grateful for that."
Watene-Zelezniak's left-knee clean-out comes after problems with his right knee last year, with the initial recovery time falling right around New Zealand's October 25 Test with Australia.
The Kiwis meanwhile name their squad later this week.
"They're going to give me any chance they can to play. It's whatever is best for my knee, though," he said.
"Any time I get to put on a black jersey I will take it but I don't want to be taking a spot when I am only 80 per cent."