Sunwolves co-captain Ed Quirk will once again be watching his team from the sidelines Saturday when the Japanese Super Rugby side takes on the Auckland-based Blues.
And while the 25-year-old would rather be on the field, he is quite happy with the way things have turned out from a personal standpoint, despite the Sunwolves once again struggling in rugby's top regional competition.
Having recovered from a broken hand, a long-standing neck injury means Quirk will miss the season finale. But given recent events, the long-term picture is far more important than the short term.
Quirk arrived in Japan at the end of 2015 following two injury-interrupted seasons with the Queensland-based Reds. But the Brisbane State High School graduate has rediscovered his love for the sport in the Land of the Rising Sun.
"When I had that big injury at the Reds, the stepping stone for me was to reconnect and play footy," he told Kyodo News on Thursday at Tatsumi Rugby Ground. "And getting the opportunity last year to play for the Sunwolves was a tick off my bucket list to play Super again."
"I had an all right year and my next goal was to go around Super again and pick up something in Top League."
And he did that with Canon Eagles signing the Australian in June for the upcoming season.
"Canon were pretty much the first ones that came. I had trained there a year before on my own back to see what it was like and it ended up paying dividends," he said.
"I've always wanted to play Top League. It's been a thing on my list."
With two things ticked off the bucket list, Quirk, who said he hopes to continue playing Super Rugby next year for the Sunwolves, could soon make it three, as a result of recent changes to the eligibility laws to play test-match rugby.
Having played sevens for Australia while still a teenager, Quirk was prevented under the old laws from playing for another country.
But World Rugby amended their laws in May of this year so players who played international sevens before their 20th birthday can change countries, providing they abide by the residency requirements -- currently three years, but five for players who arrive after Dec. 31, 2017.
"If it all goes through my eligibility will be up next year. If it comes off I will definitely set my mind to it," he said.
"It's not a matter of just coming here and playing for Japan. You shift your previous life to here. You bring your family and partner here and have a life here and embed yourself in the culture. I love it here and don't think I want to go back."