It takes a brave man to do what Jacob Condello did in 2020.
Prior to his role as trainer at Orange United throughout this year's Wallerawang Landscaping Cup, the 27-year-old had stepped away from rugby league for six years after sustaining a season-ending neck injury at the St George Illawarra Dragons as a 21-year-old.
But, at the start of the winter when Kurt Beahan asked Condello to help out at the newly-formed club, the former Dragon made the choice to return to the game he loves.
And while it was tough for him to fight past the mental hurdle that came with coming back to footy, Condello did a cracking job with the boys throughout the season and is set to step up to co-coach for 2021.
It's a move that was an easy one for Beahan to make and it's also one that excites the hell out of Condello.
"It's been a great step back to the game for me," Condello said.
"I really got around the boys last year... especially towards the back end of the season. I want to keep that roll on and keep the mentality we had at the end of last year.
"I've never coached before but I'm up for the challenge."
The momentum Condello's referring to is the red hot finish United had to the season as they qualified for the semi finals from fifth position before knocking out Barbarians in the first week of the playoffs.
After that, the Beahan-coached squad went within one try of the ultimate boilover at Oberon and after being a witness to that late-season progression, Condello wants to help get the boys one step closer to a title.
"I really just want to breed that winner's mentality," he said.
"I've been fortunate enough to play in some really good teams with some really good players and I'd love to take the things I've learned from those teams and transfer it to United.
"We need to improve our resilience, mental toughness and just believe that we can grind our way to a win."
Not only was Condello stoked at how far the Warriors came throughout the season, he was moved by support shown by the Indigenous community as the program was somewhat a first of its kind for rugby league in the region.
"When we beat Barbarians in the semi final everyone was cheering for us at the gate when we were walking off," he said.
"It was almost felt like I played. It was unreal to see what the team had done to bring everyone together."
As for Beahan's mentality behind the coaching adjustment, he'd like to be able to dedicate more of his time next year to playing footy, something he knows he won't be able to do forever.
"I know I haven't got much left in terms of seasons," Beahan said.
"The focus for me is to perform the best I can on the field." Orange United is set to open its doors to new and old players on Monday December 7 at 6pm as the team will get together for its first pre-season training run at Max Stewart Oval.
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