Melbourne Storm vice-captain Dale Finucane has experienced his fair share of ups and downs on the field over the past 12 months, but that pales in comparison to what he's gone through off it.
Finucane made his Origin debut for NSW in June last year and then watched his club side crash out of the NRL finals series to the Roosters at the penultimate stage after they finished the season as minor premiers.
The arrival of his first baby (a boy named Freddy) just after the season finished quickly put a smile back on Finucane's face, but the catastrophic bushfires near his hometown of Bega on the NSW South Coast earlier this year was a little bit too close to home for the affable 28-year-old.
"I was back there just after Christmas, so I saw a little bit of what it was shaping to look like," Finucane told NRL.com.
"Many of the bad fires were just on the outskirts of town, but it was pretty scary stuff.
"My dad lives there, my in-laws are there, plus I have a heap of cousins and mates (in Bega) ... so I was relying on social media and talking to my family every day to ensure everyone was safe."
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Finucane holds his family extremely close to his heart, so it was an easy decision for the Storm lock to make when presented with the opportunity to visit his home town prior to the new season and try and give something back to the communities that suffered.
Storm teammates Ryan Papenhuyzen, Tui Kamikamica and Aaron Pene will accompany Finucane to Bega this weekend to run clinics for a host of youngsters and attempt to help the local community reinvigorate the area following January's bushfires.
Doing everything he can to help in the community is an important part of the role of an NRL player according to Finucane and he hopes he can put a smile back on the face of many of the people he meets this weekend.
"I would rather it be more happier circumstances for my return, but I am glad I got the opportunity to come here," he said.
"All the work the NRL players do in the community is great.
"We have seen the Dragons up and down the South Coast the last few weeks, while the trial game (Eels v Panthers) has been moved to support the area and I am looking forward to doing my part."
And while events off the field currently hold much of the focus for Finucane, that will quickly change later this month when the experienced lock runs out for the Storm in their final trial match of the pre-season against the Cowboys.
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Finucane expects veteran coach Craig Bellamy to have all hands on deck for the final tune-up prior to round one, with a near full-strength side likely to take on the Cowboys at Casey Fields in Melbourne's south-east on February 29.
From that point on it's all about re-focusing for the campaign ahead, with more representative football and the hope of a second NRL title among Finucane’s on-field goals for the new season.
"Everyone playing in the NRL should be aspiring for higher honours, so it's definitely a goal of mine to play Origin again this year," Finucane declared.
"But first and foremost, it is about playing well for the Storm and if I do well there on a weekly basis those type of things will look after themselves."