The Parramatta Eels left for the United States without their glorified x-factor, but they returned with a mysterious replacement they hope will help them survive the post Jarryd Hayne era.
Eels coach Brad Arthur revealed on Monday how the club found a secret weapon during their eight-day trip to Seattle and immediately employed him as the squad resumed pre-season training at home.
"Look, we have implemented something already, and it's using a person from their environment that works with them," Arthur said on 2KY's Big Sports Breakfast.
"It probably needs to stay confidential amongst us at the moment, but every team's got a bit of an x-factor about them in terms of outside influences.
"That's something that we did get and we'll have a lot of contact with this person, coming back to Australia and helping us out as a group in terms of what we want to stand for in standards and a few things like that."
The only other clue a cagey Arthur would divulge was that the mysterious person had been a positive influence on what was a raw Washington Huskies (college football) side that is currently competing in the Division I NCAA tournament this season.
"[He does] a bit of everything. He doesn't specialise in the one particular thing, and he doesn't like to be known as that," Arthur said.
"But it's a bit of everything. And really, for where we're at as a group, it suits us right now. And he's done the same sort of work with the Huskies over there.
"To us, they're a young team that's in a development stage, so we liken them a bit to the Parramatta Eels."
The second-year mentor said the team had used the overseas excursion to integrate a number of off-season recruits, including star signing Anthony Watmough from Manly.
The Eels also enlisted the services of experienced campaigners Beau Champion, Richie Fa'aoso, Cody Nelson, Reece Robinson and Brad Takairangi.
Super League duo Ben Crooks and Shannan McPherson have also signed on respective two- and one-year deals, while former Knight Danny Wicks will make a dramatic return to the game in blue-and-gold.
"It was a bit of the unknown for us to tell you the truth. But coming back and looking at it now, we got plenty out of the trip. It was a really good way to start our preparation into the pre-season," Arthur said.
"We've had a bit of a turnover of players and there's nothing better than having them live with each other 24/7 and come together that way. And we've got a new strength and conditioning coach in Paul Devlin who started to work closely with their diets and really give them an insight into how our training program was going to work and the standards we want to set.
"And then seeing their facilities – obviously money plays a bit part in their facilities over there but we got some bits and pieces that we can implement at our club which aren't a cost issue.
"We also got to meet a couple of people that did some workshops that'd worked with the college team there, the Huskies."
Arthur said the squad had also 'moved on' from the exit of their mercurial superstar. Hayne, who sensationally walked away from the NRL last month to pursue his NFL dream, flew to Seattle to privately farewell his former teammates.
"Look, no disrespect to Jarryd because we know how much of a wonderful player and how much of an influence he had at Parramatta, but he just wanted to say goodbye to the boys," he said.
"And I'll say this with all honesty, the boys have moved on past it and they see it as an opportunity. They're only focusing on the positives out of it, which is, it gives a few of them an opportunity to stand up and really have their say and put their stamp and input on this team."