After four whirlwind months with the Melbourne Storm in the Queensland bubble, Tyran Wishart's feet have finally come down from the clouds.
Before then, it appeared Wishart's promising young rugby league career had stalled with the St George Illawarra Dragons.
But that all changed in June when the son of Steelers legend Rod Wishart penned a deal with the Storm - leading to a career-changing few months on the road.
"Ever since our first real discussions with the Storm, everything's happened so quickly - it's almost felt surreal at times," he said.
"It's been an incredible ride so far and I can't wait to see what the future holds when I rip into training in the pre-season and next year."
After being flown up to Twins Waters to sign his deal, the Kiama High School alumnus then headed to Melbourne to join up with his new teammates.
But that was short-lived, only lasting a week in Victoria before COVID-19 forced his club back to Queensland.
"Those first few weeks were crazy," he said.
"I can remember being sent a text we had just two hours to pack before getting on a plane to Melbourne - not knowing how long we'd be on the road for."
During his time in the bubble, Wishart trained hard with the Storm's top squad, featuring former Shellharbour Shark Chris Lewis, as he didn't get a chance to lace up the boots at either NRL or Queensland Cup level.
"Just training the whole time and not playing was definitely a different experience for me," the 21-year-old said.
"Honestly, I would have been in the same boat last season if not for having the chance to come back and play for my junior club Gerringong, which I'm super appreciative of.
"Just being in and around a NRL group on a daily basis was incredible, as I trained with them during the week and all the other boys who weren't in the matchday squad like myself, were put through intense fitness sessions on weekends to replicate the games.
"I did go close to playing for Brisbane Tigers in the Q-Cup, which is something we'd been working towards for a while.
"The morning of the game, we were having our breakfast and were just about to get on the bus to the game but before we did, the news broke there were COVID cases around Brisbane, which prevented us from doing so, unfortunately.
"Despite changing feeder clubs to the Sunshine Coast Falcons towards the end of the season, I wasn't able to get a game with them either because of the bubble.
"As much as I enjoyed the training, I can't wait to play some games again next year."
Wishart also experienced the inner-sanctum of the Storm during their record-equalling 19 straight wins and their journey to the preliminary final.
"The boys were well and truly rolling when I joined them, so I just tried to take in as much as I could - seeing how those seasoned professionals handled it all was inspiring," he said.
"I was stoked to be a part of it, even just for a short amount of time.
"Although I didn't play, each player felt a part of the sessions, as us reserves would go opposed to the first grade boys each week and try an imitate upcoming opponents, such as Tom Trbojevic and Nathan Cleary, to get the boys ready - which worked up until that preliminary final loss.
"It wasn't our club's day that day [against Penrith] and it hurt everyone involved because we thought we were building something very special.
"The mood was definitely down but after a couple of days, everyone started looking ahead to how they could make amends in 2022."
It wasn't just the playing group that had an instant impact on the Group Seven junior.
"What everyone says about Craig Bellamy is true, he's a great coach and even better person, who just wants the best for each and every person," he said.
"That trickles down to the rest of the staff, who I got along with great - they're all super approachable and open to giving us players feedback whenever we want it, which is unreal for a younger player like myself."
Wishart has been back on the South Coast for just over a fortnight and will remain here until next month, before pre-season kicks off on November 22 - which will start with a two-week boot camp, involving 4.30am starts for the gym, followed by a full day of working and extensive field sessions at night.
"It's great to be home after a few months away - I really started to miss my friends and family," he said.
"I'm going to make the most of my time here before heading down to Melbourne in November, which will all depend on the quarantine rules and borders as to when that exactly is.
"When we do restart training, the main goal for me is to put a massive pre-season in - with me not playing much footy over the past 12 months, I don't have the runs on the board as some others do, unfortunately.
"As I transition into a top 30 spot, it's really up to me to showcase my talents every time I step on the paddock."
With a number of departures at the club, including Bega's Dale Finucane and utility back Nicho Hynes joining the Sharks, Wishart knows there is an opportunity for him to potentially fulfil his dream and make his first grade debut.
"I'd say at this stage I'll start the season in the Q-Cup, which will be a great test for me, as I work towards trying to get the call-up to the NRL," he said.
"I know nothing is just going to be handed to me, so like I've done my whole career, I'm going to keep working hard and try and prove myself.
"Having a full-time contract is a huge step in the right direction, as you know you're in the mix for the matchday squad each week.
"With there also being a bit of an opening as that bench utility role at the club, myself and a couple of other guys are working hard to try and show the coaches we're capable of providing something different to the squad.
"It's a goal I've been chasing all my life and I'm now hungrier than ever to achieve it."
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