New Zealand Warriors recruit Bodene Thompson has revealed his move from the Wests Tigers to Auckland was driven by a desire to be closer to his young son.
Thompson's son moved from the Gold Coast to Christchurch six months ago with his mother – a huge distance away considering the commitment involved with playing football for a living.
A shoo-in for a spot in the Tigers' undermanned back row in 2015, Thompson's move to the Warriors means he is now jostling for a spot in the club's 17 up against internationals Ben Matulino, Simon Mannering, Suaia Matagi, Ben Henry, Sam Rapira and fellow recruit Ryan Hoffman.
"[The move to Auckland] was just a matter of being closer to [my son], and my immediate family is in town as well, so it was a move inspired to be closer to them really," Thompson told NRL.com.
"Things didn't work out for me at the Tigers. I wanted to stay but it all didn't pan out the way I wanted it to and I'm stoked now to be at the Warriors. I can't wait to head over there.
"Living in Auckland now means I'm only an hour flight to him which is exciting."
While family priorities drove the move, Thompson is also relishing both the challenge of fighting to earn a regular first grade spot, and the chance to learn from a pack filled with internationals.
"Everyone loves competition, well I certainly do, and I just can't wait to get into it because everyone's on that same page," Thompson said.
"We all have to train as hard as we can and do everything we can to hopefully be picked week in, week out. It's a challenge I'll always look forward to and I pride myself on that.
"They have plenty of talented back-rowers at the club now. It's good to challenge yourself and always compete but also help one another too, because it's a team sport at the end of the day so I can't wait to get over there and rip in.
"It's a long season… so it's just a matter of taking it one day at a time too. There's no point looking too far ahead, you just have to train as hard as you can."
Having previously been forced to bide his time at the Gold Coast Titans and then the Tigers, Thompson now has the opportunity to extend his career at the team he supported as a kid.
"Growing up the Warriors was and still is the only team in New Zealand playing rugby league so obviously everyone liked them," Thompson said.
"It hasn't sunk in yet. I had plenty of my idols in the team back then so it's a dream come true for me to play for my childhood team."