Wests Tiger Curtis Sironen was set for a big year before suffering a foot injury at the Auckland Nines.
Congratulations Wests Tigers fans: you're the reason why the kid whose last name is synonymous with the black and gold chose to play for you for at least the next three years – and maybe more.
 
Curtis Sironen's re-signing on Thursday is further proof of the club's youth movement, a show of faith in what CEO Grant Mayer has previously described as a once-in-a-generation burgeoning of talent.
 
But while keeping the core of its young brigade intact was high on the agenda for both parties, in the end it was the fan base's courageous effort in monsoon-like conditions against Manly that won over the 20-year-old.

That spine-tingling sight of a raucous Leichhardt hill can often be the intimidating factor for opposition teams. But it also doubles as the romantic partner that the local juniors can get easily attached to.
 
"A lot of the fans, I've been seeing them before I was even playing in the NRL. You see faces all the time, at home games, you recognise them," Sironen said on Thursday.
 
"The game against Manly the other day, that hit me when I really wanted to be here, seeing 15,000 in the rain, cheering the boys on.
 
"How they won, and how they did it, I thought, 'Geez, I just want to play footy [here] for the next couple of years'.
  
"It hit me that day. And the week after that, the negotiations came to an end and I knew I was going to be here."

And now that he's sticking around until the end of 2017, the second-rower has dreams of becoming a one-club man. 

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"I think I could. With the core that we've got, I grew up with a lot of the boys – we're like mates. It makes it a lot easier coming in here every day," he said.

"It's not really repetitive at all, coming here. It's a good environment. It's fun to be here. I think I could see myself [being a one-club player], if the club allowed that."
 
For now, Sironen just wants to regain a spot on the team. After fracturing his foot at the Auckland Nines, Sironen is on track for a return in Round 12 - if he can work his way in.
 
"The surgeon and our physios are really happy with it. They said basically I've got the all-clear to play now, once I get my fitness up," he said.
 
"My actual foot, the bone's healed. For me it's about getting my running, getting my match fitness and trying to earn my spot in the side if I can get one."

Having watched the team from afar during rehab, the former City Origin representative said there was camaraderie around this year's squad that was missing last season.
 
"[It's] just the attitude. You can really tell. We trained hard every year, but I think last year we were just lacking something. It started to get repetitive, coming to training. I think a lot of us, myself included, we were doing the bare minimum, you'd do the training and go home," he said.

"Now the boys are doing extras, we're all hanging out together, socialising together after training and then after hours. I think that camaraderie helps a lot.

"The senior players have been unreal this year. The leadership group, they've really brought the boys together. You can tell by how the boys are playing, they're playing for each other. Our forwards are going unreal, we're just playing off the back of them. The boys are really enjoying having a dominant forward pack."