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Long-time Dragons fan Matt Groat says it was an easy decision to join the Red V.

A number of local connections and a family love of the Dragons made Matt Groat's decision to move across from Wests Tigers an easy one.

"I've always been a massive Dragons fan, my family's always been following the Dragons, and they gave me a good opportunity," Groat told

"I know a few of the boys – I went to school with Jack De Belin, Jack Stockwell and Sam Williams, so it made the decision quite easy. And I love the area of Wollongong."

The bulky prop, still just 21 years of age, played just 17 games for the Tigers over three years from 2011 to 2013 as a number of injuries scuppered his development – but he says the body is feeling good now.

"I've had three major surgeries over the last couple of years, it's been a factor [in not playing a lot of first grade] but all good now, all healthy and ready to rumble," he said.

"I had ligament damage in my toe so I had to get surgery on that, I had a dislocation in my thumb and a meniscus tear in my knee."  

But that's all behind Groat, who said he is just looking to rip into pre-season at his new club.

At the end of the squad's first major week back at training, Groat said it had been "tough but fair", with several new faces – including former Super League prop Mike Cooper – meaning plenty of competition for spots in the forward pack. And Groat is taking nothing for granted.

"At the moment I'm just trying to get as strong and as fit as I can with this off-season, do whatever I can for the club. If it's play first grade I'll be over the moon, if it's working my way into it – so be it."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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