It's pushing late on Thursday evening and around him at the Geelong Cats' hotel resort base on Australia's Gold Coast, Zach Tuohy's team-mates are reuniting with their families.
The arriving families have just completed their quarantine period and, after weeks apart, can finally join the rest of the squad. But Tuohy opted against putting his fiancée and two kids, aged one and six, through the process. Instead, he'll likely drive on for whatever remains of the Cats' season. If it all goes to plan, that could extend to a grand final in October.
In the midst of the AFL's strangest season, that separation remains the most taxing element.
"I've got a one-year-old and a six-year-old at home and a fiancée, so that is the hardest part for me," Tuohy agrees. "And I think I can say that on behalf of all the other dads who have been away. It's been a challenge."
The AFL have gone to extraordinary lengths to rescue their year from the jaws of the Covid-19 crisis. Entire teams have moved bases. Clubs have cut their staff dramatically and slashed player wages in half.
The players themselves are in effective lockdown within their training hubs. They can go out for a coffee but only to take away. A walk on the beach is fine and so is taking a dip, but they are advised against lying on the sand.
"It is strange like, but it wasn't really up for debate really," Tuohy says. "This is the only way the season was going to get to go ahead, so it was a sacrifice we had to make."
Tuohy is 11 years in Australia now and this is season number 10 as a fully-fledged AFL player. That staying power automatically marks him out as one of the most successful exports from the GAA to the AFL.
This morning, he'll make another small piece of history when he suits up in the AFL for the 198th time, making him the second 'most-capped' Irishman to play in the AFL.
The game against Port Adelaide brings him past Tadhg Kennelly (197) and leaves only the great Jim Stynes (264) ahead of him.
And it's been an incredible journey to this point, especially when you consider Tuohy might never have been an AFL player. On his first visit to Carlton, a two-week fact-finding mission, he felt lost and considered never returning.
"I think there were nerves initially coming. Actually, when I came for my first two-week trial in Australia, I actually didn't enjoy it at all. I particularly disliked it which was really disappointing because I had geared everything in the previous couple of years towards coming over here.
"And when I didn't like it, it threw me a bit, so I made myself come back. But the second time I came back, officially as a Carlton player, I just loved it from the get go."
"You have to remember, I was 17 at that stage and I'd never even flown to London by myself, let alone all the way to Australia, so there was probably a bit of tension anyway. What I actually think happened is, I probably didn't like it and over time I have built up in my mind how much I didn't like it, if you know what I mean?
"But I didn't enjoy it, to be perfectly honest. I made myself come back.
"But once I did, I loved it. I'm very happy I got back on the plane a second time."
It was a decision that has thrown his life in a very different arc. These days, Tuohy is respected throughout the league. He's part of the leadership group in Geelong (along with Dingle's Mark O'Connor) and was the only foreign player to play for the All-Stars in the State of Origin bushfire relief game.
He's durable too, a quality admired by the AFL public in their most attritional of games. For seven seasons up to 2019, he never missed a match for Carlton or Geelong.
A knee injury brought his 138-game streak to an end, which at the time was the longest run of any current player in the league. Off the field, he met an Aussie girl, Rebecca, who is now his fiancée.
"You can look back at any number of moments in your life like that can't you? But I've got two kids, and my kids are Australian - there's no ifs, buts or maybes about it. They are Irish as well, but they were born here to an Australian mother, they go to school here and I've got my roots fairly well tied here.
"That doesn't mean I won't come home post-football. In fact, I probably will come home post-football, but I'm proud of the Australian connection I have now. My kids and fiancée are very much Australian, but yeah, it changed a lot, the fact that I came back."
If getting on that plane for a second time was a sliding-doors moment, then there's still part of him back in Portlaoise. The club won a Leinster title in 2010, a game he still hasn't watched back. But it's the near misses, the ones where they lost narrowly, that haunt him most. If his life is in Australia, 'The Town' has always retained a piece of him.
"I don't think I ever came close to actually packing it in, but I think in my first year away Portlaoise won Leinster. And Portlaoise have come very close to All-Ireland success on a number of occasions. Even in the years they didn't get out of Leinster, there were very narrow losses to the Dublin champions who very often went on to cruise to club All-Irelands. So that kind of stung more than anything else.
"Obviously you miss your family and friends but the world is a lot smaller with that sort of stuff now. You can always make contact.
"But I'm an incredibly proud Portlaoise man, it's the biggest thing that is drawing me home. I still haven't watched the Leinster final that they won in 2010. It just feels a bit wrong to me. I'm obviously proud of the fact that they won it, and some of my best friends were playing that day. But even still, it just knocks me around a small bit thinking of all I've missed.
"Missing the Leinster was bad, but missing some of the ones we lost, especially the ones where we lost by a point or two, I think that might be worse. You're always thinking 'could I have helped and contributed?' And you're asking yourself 'did I cost them?' But I don't think I came close to leaving."
Tuohy has had some big moments in the AFL. At one stage, making a senior appearance was his goal. Now the 10 seasons he's done far outstrips the average career length. There's been big play-off wins and a famous 2018 after-the-siren winner against the Demons. And today he surpasses Kennelly - though he wants to play for a few more seasons at least. As a club, Geelong feels like home and his eyes are on a bigger prize.
"Look, I'm proud of it, no doubt about that. But without sounding disrespectful, there are bigger fish to fry. Tadhg is the only Irish bloke to ever win a Premiership and that's my goal as well and I want to do it this year. So it's an honour to be up as high as he was, because I looked up to him and still do an awful lot. But until I win that flag, I think he is going to have me covered."