RYAN CLAYTON was finding it hard to contain his delight as he stepped back onto a Super League training field with Huddersfield Giants.
For six months, the highly-rated 22-year-old England A international had been left in the top-flight wilderness.
After finishing last season at relegated Castleford Tigers, Clayton was well aware that several Super League clubs were interested in acquiring his services.
But while he waited for the agents to check out the various options, the former Halifax centre or back-row forward fancied the chance to have a spell in France.
A clause was specifically written into his contract with top French club Villefranche stating that if a Super League club came in for him, he could leave at a moment's notice.
It was just the deal Clayton wanted.
This was the chance for him to maintain his match fitness at a relatively high standard and have the option of returning to England when the right opportunity arose.
The fact it has taken this long for that right chance to come along was a cause of some frustration,
But, as far as Clayton is concerned, joining the Giants has been well worth the wait.
"France was a fantastic experience, but I always regarded it as something of a stop-gap measure," explained the Oldham-based player.
"To be honest, I thought I would be back before now, because there were a few irons in the fire when I set off to play for Villefranche.
"Unfortunately, those fell through.
"But then almost out of the blue, my agent rang me last week and asked if I fancied going to Huddersfield.
"I literally jumped at the chance of getting on the first plane and opening talks with them.
"Although I've spent the last six months in France, I've been keeping a very close eye on events in Super League, and the way the Giants were continuing to impress is something that hadn't gone unnoticed.
"I know my old Castleford teammate from last year, Paul Jackson, is loving it here, and has definitely been improving as a player.
"And I believe I can do the same.
"In the few days I've been here, it's already pretty clear this is the most decent team I've been a part of, and that Jon Sharp has some great coaching ideas.
"I'm convinced that with Sharpy in charge and with the quality of player in the squad, the Giants will continue to get better and I'll continue to improve. I really can't wait to get cracking."
But although Clayton believes there is still room for improvement in his game, he has already made a big impact at a very high level.
He broke into the Super League team at Halifax when he was a teenager and was named the club's player of the year in 2003.
It was also around that time he made his two appearances for England A, including a two-try debut in the European Nations Cup triumph over Russia.
Following the relegation of Halifax from Super League, he moved to Castleford - and then suffered a similar fate once again.
But he is 100% convinced there will be no repeat at the Giants.
"I haven't done too well up to now, have I?" he added.
"But I'm sure it'll be third time lucky with a club like Huddersfield.
"Being involved with clubs that suffered relegation isn't a pleasant experience at all.
"It was something I was determined not to repeat with the next move I made.
"And it's obvious the Giants are a club that can concentrate on up rather than down."