He sat on the sidelines and watched Macquarie United's 2022 Western Premier League season but Rhys Osborne will make a long-awaited return to play on Saturday at Apex Oval.
The former Macquarie United coach will be part of the club's opening match of the season against Bathurst '75, one of three matches to be played as Dubbo hosts a triple-header.
Injuries kept Osborne from taking the field in 2022, leaving him to coach from the sidelines as Macquarie struggled to win matches.
Daniel Gilholme has taken on the coaching role this season and for Osborne, he is just looking to lace up the boots once again.
"I'm just happy to be part of the playing group again, to be honest," he said.
"It takes that pressure off coaching as well, it's much easier to do one thing and try to do it well than rather do both.
"I'm happy to lace the boots back up to do my part for the squad and the club."
United will boast an even mixture of youth and experience this season, with the likes of Osborne and Justin Sutton having several seasons under their belts as has Brooklyn Crain, someone Gilholme believes could be in for a big campaign.
Ahead of round one, Osborne has had a good look at this year's squad and believes there is a lot to like about Macquarie in 2023.
"I've had a bit of stint on the sideline so I've had the chance to watch the boys in trials and training," he said.
"It's a young squad again but a lot of the lads who played year are back, we did debut a few last season.
"This year I think those boys are going to form the nucleus, which is nice.
"There are a few good signings of some older lads as well, they should hopefully mix in well."
One of the club's new signings is Jamie Lobb, a former NPL 1 player and winning captain.
It's the addition of Lobb that has Osborne excited for the club as a whole, getting to learn from a seasoned professional.
"He's a great bloke and footballer, he's got a great football brain on him," he said.
"He's my age as well so he is no spring chicken but what he will bring to the side and club will hopefully put us in good stead.
"He's a great leader, I think he played NPL 1 when he was younger with Manly and might have been a premiership-winning captain.
"He brings a lot of knowledge about what it takes to succeed at one of the highest levels of football in Australia."
Bathurst '75 was one of the top sides in the competition last season, finishing third overall.
With player movements happening everywhere around the competition, Osborne knows what to expect this weekend.
"They are always going to be a well-drilled and well-coached side," he said.
"I think we played them at home last season and it was one of the best games we played.
"Maybe we can take something out of that game and have a bit of belief that we can match it with them and hopefully put it over them."
Earlier in the day, Dubbo Bulls will face Panorama FC in a battle of two competition heavyweights.
Bulls will put out largely the same side for the season opener which will begin at 3pm before Macquarie United's match follows.
To end the day, Orana Spurs will be looking to start a lot faster than they did 12 months ago when they battle reigning premiers Orange Waratahs.
Spurs will welcome back Jake Grady while Waratahs have been boosted by the addition of three Welsh players to their squad.
The Macquarie United match will begin at 5pm.
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