THE 2020 season has brought challenges for numerous athletes, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Berry's Tom Connor is no different.
In May, the Shoalhaven Rugby Club product was let go by the Australian men's rugby sevens team - largely due to cost-cutting by Rugby Australia.
"It was obviously very disappointing [to not get re-signed], but deep down I knew the writing had been on the wall for some time," Connor, 28, said.
"A combination of falling out of favour with the coach, some serious injuries and a significant downsizing to the squad for the upcoming season all played a part.
"As such, I took some time away from the game to recharge mentally and physically, and just enjoyed living a normal lifestyle for a change."
During his four years with the program, Connor chalked up 10 caps and played tournaments at Dubai, Cape Town, Sydney, Hamilton, Las Vegas, London, Singapore and Vancouver - with the latter's enclosed stadium being his favourite to play at.
"The last four years was honestly a dream come true," the former Australian Schoolboy said.
"To be able to represent my country with a group of people I now consider family is something I'll cherish for the rest of my life.
"But the standout moment for me was captaining the team in the Singapore Sevens last year."
Being the proactive person he is, Connor kept his options open - which saw him secure the next step in his career in Russia.
"The Russian opportunity came about through an old coach of mine (Andrew Curtin) who took up a gig over there a few years ago with a team called Zastava," he said.
"During that time, I've kept in touch with him.
"The owner (Dmitry Morozov) of the team is a massive rugby fan and uses his significant wealth to back the team financially, with recruitment at the forefront of that in the last 12 months.
"So a few text messages and zoom calls later and it all came together."
At first glance, playing rugby in Russia - especially in the world's current climate - might sound daunting but not to Connor.
"There were a few reasons I jumped at this opportunity," Connor, who stayed fit during lockdown by completing numerous circuit and body-weight exercises, said.
"The first being one of my best mates and former Aussie sevens teammate Sam Myers had signed to play for the same team six months earlier - being able to play alongside him again was a big bonus.
"Then the opportunity to do something completely foreign and unique appealed to me.
"It's pretty rare and unheard of to be able to play sevens professionally for a team that isn't in Australia and to do it in a country like Russia seemed like a once in a lifetime experience that was too good to pass up."
Despite the current change in international travel, the former Warringah Rat left for Russia on Sunday - which included four flights (Sydney - Doha - Istanbul - Moscow - St Petersburg) before finally arriving in St Petersburg.
"The mandatory face masks were obviously the biggest change during transit," he said.
"Throw in the plastic screen/visor and also a pair of headphones I'd usually use on a flight and there is a quite a bit of gear on your head."
Since arriving in St Petersburg, there's also been an emphasis on safety.
"I know the Zastava program is very stringent with their COVID protocols and testing, so I have full faith in them and keeping us healthy and safe," he said.
Connor and his Zastava team will now start preparations for both their domestic competition - which consists of numerous two-day tournaments - and European Championships Series.
The latter is similar to the UEFA Champions League football tournament, which along with numerous invitational tournaments, will see Connor play at places like Algarve, Dubai, Rome and Amsterdam - which the Berry product has played at in the past with his Samurai side.
"The owner has gone to massive lengths to get me over to Russia, which is no small feat given all the border restrictions in force at the moment," Connor said.
"As such, I just really want to repay that faith and win tournaments.
"If we can grow the game of rugby over there as well then that's a bonus too."
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As excited as he is for his new adventure, Connor hasn't completely shut the door on playing for his country again in the future.
I'm at peace with leaving the Aussie program and excited for a new challenge, so my goals and focus are totally with Zastava moving forward," he said.
"If the call came to represent my country again then, of course, I'd jump at the opportunity but it isn't something I'm actively working towards."