A St George Illawarra homecoming gave Trent Merrin "goosebumps" when he walked into the training sheds, with the former representative star vowing to help return the club to NRL glory.
The 30-year-old forward returns to the Dragons from Leeds, older and wiser, four years after he left his junior club for Penrith.
Calling it a "dream come true" to return, the former NSW and Australian player said his role was to be selfless to help restore success at the Dragons.
"I've always loved the Dragons and, to see such a youthful group come through, I know they did it a bit tough last year but they're making up for it now; they're putting their best foot forward," he said.
"They've got some great depth in the middle.
"What I add is a bit of experience and I'll do everything I possibly can to put myself in the best position in the best shape and the best mental condition to give this team everything I've got.
"I'll leave it up to the coaches to make those decisions but my thing now is putting the team first and doing everything I possibly can to get this club back to where they deserve to be.
"It's not about making positions - it's more of a selfless job, mine now. It's about putting the team first."
Merrin returns to the NRL after one year with Leeds in the Super League that he labels "challenging".
The club captain was released by the Rhinos from his four-year marquee contract after they secured Cronulla prop Matt Prior as a replacement on a two-year deal.
From the cold weather to the free-flowing style of play, Merrin said he found Super League difficult to get used to but appreciated the life lessons it taught him.
"I learned a lot about leading a team and I took a lot out of it," he said.
"It was a massive growth period for me personally, as well as the rugby league side of things.
"It was a massive growth period going over there, stepping outside of our comfort zone, being in the cold weather every day.
"I'm grateful for it.
"It's made me appreciate everything that we do have here.
"To be back here on the coast and put that Red V on again, it gave me goosebumps walking into the sheds.
"That speaks 1000 words itself."
Australian Associated Press