Clark's three months in purgatory
South Sydney forward Jason Clark can't imagine a life without the Rabbitohs emblem on his chest, but it was a reality he had to confront earlier this year.
Clark – who played his 131st NRL game in Souths' 12-6 win over the Sharks on Monday night – re-signed with the Rabbitohs until the end of the 2018 season last week.
Though it followed three months of anguish over whether the club he's supported from birth would offer him a new deal.
Clark's manager, Steve Gilles, told the 27-year-old at the beginning of the year he'd have a contract sorted by Round 10 of the NRL Telstra Premiership. It didn't eventuate.
The Coogee-Randwick Wombats junior confirmed to NRL.com that he had no offers from any other Australian club, which left him to face the daunting prospect of extending his rugby league career overseas.
A former Souths under-20s skipper and key member of their 2014 premiership win, to finally have his future sorted was not only a weight off his own shoulders but for his loved ones too.
"I live in Botany, my two older sisters live in Botany, my whole family all live locally in South Sydney. If I were to move, I wouldn't have known what to do with myself," Clark said.
"I have a lot of support here which I'm very lucky to have so it would've been a hard situation to be in definitely if I were to leave.
"Clubs don't want to sign somebody because they're a nice bloke. They want to sign someone who is going to do a job so I'm glad Souths have put their faith in me."
With two daughters and another baby to come in November, Clark's angst went beyond his desire to remain a Rabbitoh.
"It's not just about me anymore. I have two little girls, my wife and a mortgage so not knowing what was going to happen next year was hard," he said.
"It was very worrying and something that played on my mind a lot. What I had to do was put it out of my head and realise that it was out of my control. That's what my manager is for. I just had to play good football.
"I was quite lucky to have my girls to keep me distracted, almost. They're my livewires."
Conjecture over his future has lit a fire within the City Origin representative Clark to start organising himself for life after football.
"It's a hard thing to balance but some off-field work or study is definitely something I want to pursue," he said.
"I did carpentry while I was playing 20s but that might be hard to lead into in life after footy but I'll be on the hunt soon with the club's career advisers."
On the Rabbitohs' six-point win, Clark said the club plans on finishing the year off with a bang for the sake of their pride.
The Rabbitohs are hopeful of rattling a few more cages to see out their season and improving on their current 13th position on the competition ladder,
"As much as it hasn't been the ideal year for us. We just want to finish off strong. Unfortunately the year has panned out the way it has and of course you never want it to be like that," Clark said.
"Our next job is Newcastle. We want to set ourselves up for winning the competition next year. We will finish the year off strong hopefully. I'm personally looking to have a good break and building from there."