As soon as Stephen Hoiles knew he could play rugby again after two games for Randwick last August, he picked up the phone and asked Waratahs coach Michael Cheika for a run.
"I said you won't be getting any money for it but you can come and train," Cheika said.
On Sunday Hoiles is poised to complete an incredible return to Super Rugby, after Cheika named him on his bench to face the Western Force at Allianz Stadium.
But still there's no promise of a pay cheque.
Hoiles' career was meant to be over after a relentless Achilles injury stopped him in his tracks as a Wallabies forward and Brumbies captain in 2010.
Just to make it back on the field is a remarkable achievement, but with a young family to support, 32-year-old Hoiles is desperately hoping he can nail down a contract in the coming weeks.
"We've spoken about everything with great transparency with all the players that have been here training outside the contracted group," said Cheika.
"It's been great for him. He's made some personal sacrifices which makes you want it even more and he's earned the right to keep getting a run so hopefully he'll get some time on the weekend and he'll contribute to the game."
In 2006 and 07, Hoiles was a senior player at the Waratahs and Dave Dennis a greenhorn in the academy.
But now Dennis is NSW skipper and Hoiles is the man fighting for his opportunity.
Hoiles has shares in a gym on the south coast, but otherwise he's trained his guts out and kept the mental demons at bay throughout a gruelling pre-season without a steady income.
Dennis says Hoiles' commitment to the cause has inspired the Waratahs.
"Very much so and obviously he hasn't been earning anything for the past couple of months," Dennis said.
"He's got a young family so that's an issue and for him to be able to work hard and be able to train with all the boys over the last couple of months and not complain and just get on with it shows he obviously cares about the team and wants to play rugby. He's not motivated by anything else.
"He's not getting any younger and to still be motivated to want to play Super Rugby at that age where he could have easily finished up and had his life with his kids and his work or whatever he wanted to do (is inspiring)."
Hoiles edged out fellow flanker Pat McCutcheon for a reserves spot, while Matt Carraro got the nod over Cam Crawford for the final outside back position on the bench.