Hindsight has given Quade Cooper a sense of clarity but the recently returned Wallabies flyhalf has no regrets from the past year.
Cooper came back to Australia last month after nearly a year of living in France, in what was a turbulent period for him on and off the field.
In the six months after he left Australia, both of Cooper’s grandmothers passed away, circumstances that he says crystallised the distance his move had put between he and his family.
“I think probably the most difficult thing to come to terms with was the passing of my [maternal] grandmother.” he says.
“My mum had my sister when she was 16 and myself when she was 18.
“Being a single mum at the age of 18 was pretty difficult and my grandmother basically raised myself, my sister and my mum throughout that period.
“I felt kind of guilty in some respect for not being able to be there and comfort [my] family but also for myself [not] to have that comfort of them during something like that.”
Those moments pushed him towards a desire to return home, with a far more complete perspective than that which sent him to Toulon from the Reds in the first place.
“The biggest thing in my life at that time was the club [Queensland}, where the club was at, and the club wasn't in a good place,” he said.
“I personally wasn't enjoying it at all.
“There was a lot of people, staff at the time that were leaving because of the environment.
“There were all these players that were leaving for different reasons as a whole but also there were similar things that were in common.”
Earlier this year, when Cooper came to the conclusion he wanted to return home, his choice pushed rugby to the background.
“I definitely didn't expect to lose two of the most important people in my family in such a short space of time (when I decided to move),” he says.
“At the same time I hadn't even put that into account, the distance, because for me it was just going somewhere to do something I love doing - play football - in another country.
“I didn't think about my life as a whole.
“I thought about one aspect of it and when you think about your life - whether you play football or do anything else - there's your family, your friends, what you value most in life.
“For me the thing I value most is family.”
Back in the Australian fold, Cooper is relishing every second he spends with his family, especially newborn nephew, Cruz, but another decision awaits.
While the last year has been difficult for Cooper, a world away from all that he knows and with limited chances to escape on the rugby field, he hasn’t wasted too much time obsessing over sliding doors moments.
“If I think back to last year, I'd definitely make the same decision.
“But who is to be able to predict the future, (both) in terms of personal things and then things that happen at the club within two games of the Super Rugby season?,” he says.
Cooper still feels Ballymore is a part of him, so intertwined with his adolescence and his own journey into adulthood as well as his rugby career.
He has made no secret of the fact that Queensland, now led by Nick Stiles, is where he’d like to continue playing Super Rugby but he has also been in talks with the Rebels about a potential move south.
“I've been thinking about it every day,” he said.
“It's a very tough decision for me to make because, Queensland - it's me.
“I can remember being 14 years of age catching the bus to Ballymore to start training with guys like Ben Tune, Steve Kefu, these guys.
“I went through some hardships as a younger kid there but everything I feel that I am today I've learned because of the environment that I've been in in Queensland.”
While he feels in some sense indebted to the place where he has played more than 100 Super Rugby games, Cooper is pragmatic about his final destination.
“I owe so much to a lot of people but at the same time I have to look after myself,” he says.
“I've only just turned 28 but in the bigger picture what's that? two, three more contracts.
“I want to make sure I can do the best I can to be successful over the next few years and win championships and win titles and put myself in the best position to continue to represent Australia and play as much as I can.”