Zane Littlejohn will return back to work at the Gabba on Monday morning in spite of doubts over coaching the Brisbane Lions in the NEAFL continuing to linger.
The development program coach was given assurances his job was safe last week for the restart of the AFL season soon after senior coach Chris Fagan picked up the phone.
"Lucky enough Fages gave me a call last Monday to say that 'you have your job still, don't panic'," Littlejohn said.
"Obviously, I was stoked because it will be just great to get back around really good people at the Lions."
The 2014 and 2015 North Launceston TSL premiership coach had joined a number of Brisbane staff unemployed after suspension of the AFL season at the end of March.
The apprehension for the Latrobe-bred Littlejohn, who had uprooted an established family life that was built with wife Katarina for their two children, was mired over the bottom line from cost-cutting that is impacting AFL clubs.
The career schoolteacher admitted for a brief moment to returning to the profession past this AFL season until their son Boyd, who had just started out primary school, finished his first year before making any decisions.
"You sort of go through those phases when you first find out you're stood down like 'what's next?' and you're sort of in some sort of survival mode," Littlejohn said.
"I sort of got through that period okay because I've got a young family and I just needed to get through it.
"In a way I am pretty lucky because I had to get into the AFL system the hard way because I hadn't played AFL footy - obviously, I did play some VFL footy, but I had to work, teach and coach and only got a look in that way.
ELSEWHERE IN SPORT
"So I felt I had done this before and it's not like it's the be all and end all. If I don't get back to the Lions this year or the next five or six weeks, I know I can do it because I have done it before."
The growing uncertainty of the NEAFL this year that provides not only the Lions, but Gold Coast, Sydney and GWS a platform to play their reserves added to the conjecture of the 33-year-old's role.
Littlejohn was never really so concerned about losing the reins on weekends.
"Through the week I am working with every player on the list through their skill development - that's my main role at the footy club. It's just comes on matchday where I'm seen more to the public more, I guess," he said.
"It's what I am seen to do externally, but internally we have had a massive focus on development ever since Fages has got to the footy club."
Littlejohn anticipates his duties to change very little since the enforced break, but other than a greater handle on player welfare - a task he did with aplomb to set up North Launceston's dynasty - spending time in the coaches box is set to be on the list.
It would be a compliment to one of the youngest assistants in the AFL system since joining the club at the end of the 2016 season.
It comes on the back of sweeping AFL changes that includes less money spent on clubs' soft caps and only five officials permitted to sit with Fagan on matchdays in the wake of coronavirus.
"There's a massive scope in what development coaches do at the footy club," he said.
"So it's not necessarily not just work with the reserves players in getting an AFL game. We work a lot of the time with the whole list."
Subscriptions are available here.
Sign up to our Sport email here.