It's likely Clay Priest only has one season left on the footy field and the Mudgee Dragons hope it can be highlighted by a Peter McDonald Premiership triumph.
The Dragons have confirmed the former Canterbury Bulldogs prop will stay on as player-coach in 2024, having led his side to the PMP grand final this year.
Priest missed the painful decider defeat to Dubbo CYMS due to suspension while he also battled a knee injury for much of this year.
Rumours of a move away from Mudgee and of retirement had swirled since the season ended but the 34-year-old has confirmed he'll be on the park again next year for potentially the final time.
"It's obviously huge for our club," returning president Cameron McCall said of the re-signing.
"Everyone knows the sort of player he is and he's one of the best players in the competition.
"I wasn't confident he was going to play, but I was definitely confident he was going to coach again.
"It's a bonus for us after the way last season finished that he still has that fire in the belly to want to play for one more year."
Together with fellow former NRL player Jack Littlejohn, Priest has played a huge role in making the Dragons regular premiership contenders.
After a title win in 2016, the side was knocked out in the second week of finals the following year before missing the finals altogether in a hugely disappointing 2018 campaign.
"In 2018, the club sort of struggled," McCall said.
"I think under 18s were the only ones to make finals but as soon as we announced Littlejohn as coach for 2019, there would have been 50 blokes at the first training session and then obviously went on to make a grand final that year.
"Since then, we haven't really struggled for numbers."
Priest, who took over the coaching role from Littlejohn this year, is now entering his fourth season as a Dragon but uncertainty remains around the former Manly and Wests Tigers half.
The Dragons have re-signed almost 20 players ahead of the 2024 season and while Littlejohn isn't one of those, McCall and the club isn't worrying yet.
"I'm personally confident that he'll play," the president said.
"I'll give him all the time he wants, I'll give him up until the week before kick-off if I have to.
"He's done a lot for our club and I don't know many players that have played NRL, come out to a town where they've never been and hung around for as long as he has and put everything into the club.
"I was giving him some time and he's got a young family but from the conversations I've had I'm pretty confident and if he doesn't play I'm sure it'll be because he's hanging up the boots."
As much as Littlejohn and Priest mean to the Dragons, they haven't been able to celebrate a premiership win together yet.
The club's last grand final win was in Group 10 in 2016 and while Mudgee has finished top of its pool in each of the past two seasons, Dubbo CYMS has snuffed out their fire each time.
"Grand finals are hard to make, let alone win them and in the last five years we've lost two grand finals," McCall said.
"We always say, not that we were certainty to do it, but if we hadn't combined the two competitions we might have added two more premierships in Group 10 but that's not a definite.
"We've been very successful in the last five years. But we really want to win a competition so that'll be a driving factor for next season, for sure."
At this stage, the only players the Dragons have lost are Casey Burgess to Coolah, Jayden Brown to Denman and young prop Hudson Brown to the Melbourne Storm.
The club is confident "about 90 per cent" of those who played in 2023 will be back again.
Captain Jack Beasley, halfback Pacey Stockton and try-scoring back-rower Jake Durrant are among the others to re-sign and keeping the current crop as well as well as some reserve grade standouts and promising under 18s has been the focus.