Timana Tahu only finished playing NRL three seasons ago.
And his last rugby league grand final was a Newcastle Knights premiership in 2001.
But this Saturday the dual international, back in the region between professional rugby union stints in the US, will play for the Shortland Devils in the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby League A-grade decider at No.1 Sportsground.
“I’ll just bring my experience,” the 36-year-old told the Newcastle Herald before training at Tuxford Park on Thursday night. “I’m one of the older guys now and I haven’t quite got the same young legs as 2001.”
The Kangaroos and Wallabies representative scored 121 tries across 14 NRL seasons, including two stints with the Knights most recently ending in 2014.
Tahu and his family are now based in Texas after he played with Denver in the inaugural PRO Rugby season of 2016. This year he took up a consultancy role with the San Antonio club and also coaches Trinity University.
He returned to Australia two months ago hoping to “relax” and “enjoy life” during the American off-season but had his “arm twisted” by a few relatives, including Shortland coach Charlie Faulkner, to pull on the boots again.
A handful of regular round games and a few semi-finals later and five-eighth Tahu is on the verge of helping the Devils claim their maiden A-grade title.
“It wasn’t part of the plan when I came back, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” he said.
“The boys have welcomed me with open arms and I feel privileged to play here, exactly the same as Parramatta or Newcastle.
“I’m not doing it for the money or the glory. I’m just here to help out.”
Tahu will more than likely cross paths with one of his former Knights coaches Michael Hagan, who assists with Shortland’s opponents the Fingal Bay Bomboras.
It will be Tahu’s first match at No.1 Sportsground.
“There’s a lot of history there so it will be quite the experience,” he said.
The Devils, who lost last year’s decider to Windale, have recorded a win, loss and draw with Fingal Bay in 2017.
Kick-off is 4pm.
A-Grade: Shortland v Fingal Bay (4pm)
B-Grade: Kotara v Dudley (2:20pm)
C-Grade: Waratah-Mayfield v Abermain (12:40pm)
D-Grade: Glendale v Cardiff (11am)
Ladies League Tag A: Aberglasslyn v University (9:50am)
Ladies League Tag B: West Wallsend v Cardiff (8:45am)