The toughest thing in any life endeavour is realising you're not getting out of it what you wanted. Martin Kennedy is no different and his return to the Roosters – a club he never really wanted to leave –has given the 26-year-old prop comfort and clarity that he never had during his one season stint at the Brisbane Broncos.
Despite being a Queenslander, seeing his family more often for the first time since he moved to boarding school at 15 and watching his brothers grow up, Kennedy couldn't help but miss what he had at the Roosters – the club he debuted for back in 2009.
Named on the Roosters extended bench for their opening season clash against the Cowboys on Saturday night, Kennedy credited a fishing trip off mainland Queensland following Brisbane's elimination from last season's finals series, which allowed him to work out what he really wanted from rugby league.
"I was with a couple of mates who do Marlin fishing. There was no phone or internet reception and it was really good to get back to myself and sort out what's gone on in the past 12 months and what I want to achieve in life. It was a really good time to centralise everything," Kennedy said.
"I was pretty hard on myself in what I wanted from my time at the Broncos and when you're sitting two-thirds of the way through the season and you know things aren't working out as they should have – it's a pretty lonely place to be.
"That was the toughest part, the realisation you haven't lived up to the hype or done anything you set out to do up there. So no matter how I cut it up or juggled the cards in the deck, everything kept coming back to the Roosters and what I love about footy."
A chance text to former coach Trent Robinson saw Kennedy undertake a self-proclaimed surreal experience that led to the point he sits currently.
Not knowing there was a spot on the Roosters roster, a meeting with Robinson over coffee in the off-season saw Kennedy move back to Sydney within a week – a shock decision to even his parents.
While he doesn't see Bondi as home, a paradox presents itself in that Kennedy feels more at home at Roosters HQ than he did at Red Hill.
"I think I just appreciate what I've got here at the Roosters more. You spend a long time during the day working with all your teammates and coaching staff and that in itself is more of a home to me," Kennedy said.
"I loved living up in Brisbane but when you're trying to put as much as you can into footy it's more about what you've got inside those four walls which is what I have here."
So what went wrong up in Brisbane for Kennedy? Well according to the Norths Ipswich junior it wasn't anything in particular – it just wasn't for him.
Though thankful for Wayne Bennett for giving him the time of day to chat and for his blessing to leave the Broncos, Kennedy said it was just the wrong kind of "different" for him.
"I didn't settle in as well as I thought I would. I missed the structure and the culture where you try putting as many sticks on the fire so you could build it up to a raging inferno," Kennedy said.
"It wasn't so much that they weren't trying to do that in Brisbane, it was just a different approach in culture I guess.
"It's like anything. If you're unhappy then you're going to see something in a certain way. But if you are, then you'll view things otherwise. Unfortunately Brisbane was a half glass empty for me."
While he is no guarantee to force his way into the Roosters 17 for this weekend's game, you better believe Kennedy is loving every minute of his, sort of, homecoming.