James Roberts considered "throwing it all in" and escaping from the unrelenting scrutiny of being an NRL player amid well-being and injury struggles last year.
But the new Wests Tigers centre, who scored a try in Sunday's 52-18 trial win against Manly, said he's now in a positive mind-state and ready to return to his best.
Roberts bravely entered a treatment facility to work on his mental health in May 2020; the third time he's sought professional help.
The electric outside back then played just six games for South Sydney before suffering a season-ending pectoral injury and was eventually released.
The 27-year-old former NSW representative signed a two-year contract with the Tigers in November after he decided against informally retiring and working a regular job.
"At one stage, I was thinking of throwing it all in and just getting away from rugby league, the media and all negative stuff and all the pressures [to] just focus on my family and live a normal life," Roberts said post-match.
Brooks places a kick for Roberts
"Luckily, I had some time away and I found that hunger again. I found a good balance with my family and I'm just enjoying everything.
"I got everything with my family in order and then [after] having a long think about it, I realised I really do love the game and it's my dream to do what I do.
"I thought I would just give it another crack and just enjoy it more instead of making it my job. I just enjoy coming to training and laughing with the boys."
Now at his fifth NRL club, Roberts has become more appreciative and already feels "comfy" in black and orange.
"I've changed my whole mindset. Just being grateful for my job and the opportunity that I have and I'm just enjoying my footy," he said.
"Not worrying about the pressures and that outside noise. Just doing what I know I'm capable of. Just enjoying my day-to-day life as well outside of footy.
"I can't remember the last time - maybe 2018 at the Broncos - [that I've felt this good]. I've got a clear head … There's a lot to look forward to at the club."
Coach Michael Maguire, who Roberts has known since he was a youngster at the Rabbitohs, has been "really supportive" of his star recruit.
"Over the years we've had our differences. I was a lot younger and a lot wilder. I had a few things going on. My priorities weren't in order," Roberts said.
"Now, I'm in a good mind-frame and it's good to work with him and try and excel my game on and off the field and help the young lads, and try and get to my peak footy again."
Victory brings belief to Maguire and his team
Roberts was nervous about testing his pec in Sunday's trial, but he made a great first impression at Leichhardt Oval playing inside winger David Nofoaluma on the right edge.
The man nicknamed Jimmy the Jet scored off a Luke Brooks grubber in the second half and earned a warm reception from the crowd when he came off late in the match.
"I think we only played at 70 percent, to be honest. We've got a lot more to offer," he said.