Royce Hunt's return to the field on Sunday will be 10 months in the making but could last less than three weeks with the Sharks prop adamant he'll be back in Sydney for the birth of his first child.
Hunt has spent almost a year on the sidelines after rupturing the patella tendon in his knee last year during the same game Shaun Johnson tore his Achilles against the Roosters at the SCG.
His rehabilitation hasn't been smooth sailing like Johnson's with the 24-year-old forward hit with five months of further complications after originally aiming for a round-one return.
Despite the relief of finally making a comeback, Hunt conceded he's experiencing mixed feelings before the game with his Sydney-based wife Shavaun due to give birth to a baby boy in three weeks.
Shavaun recently opened up on social media about the couple's difficulties with pregnancy and Hunt explained there was no way he was going to miss the occasion.
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"It's a rollercoaster of emotions at the moment," Hunt said from Brisbane.
"The wife is very supportive. She knows how much hard work we've put in [with my rehab] to get to where we are today.
"We knew we weren't too far off from getting a return game so we were all in when it came to moving up here just as long as I was able to get home for the birth.
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"I can't control what happens but when my son is ready to come out I'll make my way home.
"I keep my phone on loud every night I sleep so if I get that call then I'll be calling Moons [general manager Darren Mooney] or Noakesy [team manager Mark Noakes] to get me on a flight home."
Several other NRL players are experiencing a similar dilemma with Panthers prop James Fisher-Harris among those expected to leave the club's bubble on the Sunshine Coast on Sunday to return to Sydney.
Veteran Sharks teammate Will Chambers's roundabout journey to join Cronulla's COVID-19 bubble has at least dodged another potential hurdle, with the former Storm centre already crossing Queensland's border before Friday's 1am hard lockdown to all residents of NSW, Victoria and Queensland.
Chambers will rejoin the Cronulla camp next week and be available for their round-20 clash with Manly after driving from Melbourne to northern NSW last week to beat the Victorian capital's lockdown.
The likes of Hunt and Fisher-Harris will require exemptions to re-enter Queensland and face a 14-day hotel quarantine period when they return.
"You can't really do much about that so just have got to roll with it," Hunt said.
He added Johnson had played a big part in his rehabilitation journey with the pair spending countless days together during the summer.
"We became close in rehab, he's been in my corner the whole time," he said.
"The night I told him I was playing he had a big smile on his face and gave me a big hug.
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"The knee is pretty good. I was aiming for round one but pushed myself a bit too far and hurt it a bit more.
"I slowed down a lot after that and here we are round 19.
"It was pretty frustrating sitting on the sidelines but I'm definitely in on Sunday and can't wait to rip in."