It was the 12 months away from the game that Jackson Witts needed to take and one that has seen the Taree Wildcats reap the rewards.
In the last month of football, the Wildcats have taken nine points from a possible 15 in a purple patch of form that has seen them climb off the bottom of the Coastal Premier League ladder.
While the team has played a lot better, it has been difficult not to notice the impact the 30-year-old striker has had.
Injuries have disrupted his 2021 season, but Witts admitted momentarily hanging up the boots in 2020 was exactly what he needed.
“I really needed it because before when I was playing I was getting frustrated with myself, the game and the referees so I had to have a year off to settle down,” Witts admitted.
“I’m looking at things a lot differently now, am enjoying my football a lot more and I’m not taking it as seriously.
“It’s more fun.”
Witts feels more of a responsibility to keep a cool head when out on the pitch due to the average age of the Wildcats being in the mid-20s.
It’s a role he’s enjoying.
“There’s more responsibility on my shoulders which means I can’t take things as seriously because I need to help the young boys out,” he said.
So far Witts has found the back of the net three times and he has set his sights on a goal a game for the remaining four matches of the season.
He has regularly put himself in goal scoring positions, but converting those opportunities into goals has proven problematic.
“My own form has definitely been up and down. Over the last month I’d give myself a seven out of 10, but I haven’t been going too bad,” he said.
“A bit more commitment wouldn’t go astray to get my form up. I need to improve on my finishing.
“I missed two open goals on the weekend so I need to take my chances when they come.”