As he prepares for his first taste of football at the Auckland Nines since inking a new four-year deal late last year, Bulldogs prop Lloyd Perrett has revealed he always intended to stick with the club despite his prolonged contract negotiations.
Without a manager by his side to help him through contract proceedings, Perrett's father Lloyd Snr took the reins of his son's future.
While other clubs did inquire about him at different stages, Perrett – younger brother of Bulldogs winger Sam – told NRL.com the inquiries were just that and not actual offers.
"My dad, obviously he's been through with Sam previously, but he's still not a manager so he didn't know what he was doing," Perrett laughed. "But he tried his best and Raelene [Castle, Bulldogs CEO] was awesome by working with him and helping the deal get across the line.
"Dad had a few other clubs asking about my situation and availability but I don't think any of those talks took flight because the Bulldogs' offer was pretty solid. I was very happy with it from the start.
"Even before I received the offer, I always had in my mind that I wanted to stay if the club wanted me to and fortunately they did so I'm grateful I was given the opportunity to stay with my brother and the team. I knew about two or three months before it was announced that I was staying."
While having his brother remaining at the club was always going to work in the Bulldogs' favour, Perrett said the chance to continue playing under coach Des Hasler was also hugely appealing.
Only eight games into his NRL career, the 20-year-old prop sees plenty of positives in his veteran mentor – and not only in a coaching sense either.
"Des has been massive for me. He's big on building a person and building a character and not just a footballer. It goes without saying that it goes hand-in-hand but his whole program and system and everything we do at the club helps me become a better person as well as a better player," Perrett said.
"Everything is clear under Des. He's an awesome communicator. Just about every main field session we do, he basically goes over what we want to get out of the session so we all know what the aim is. He does everything in his power to help you while also knowing exactly what he wants from you."
Tied to the club until 2018, Perrett now has plenty of time to carve himself a spot in the side, which is still no certainty considering the high number of quality props at the club.
Despite Dale Finucane's departure to Melbourne, Perrett realises he'll have to work hard if he is to find himself a spot in a forward pack consisting of internationals James Graham, Josh Jackson, David Klemmer and Sam Kasiano as well as underestimated workhorse Aiden Tolman.
"We have amazing front-rowers at the club. To be able to learn off the likes of James Graham, Aiden Tolman – who I think is one of the most underrated players in the game – and Sam Kasiano was a huge reason why I stayed," he said.
"Another thing I love Dessie for is the fact he has that respect for the older players. If I get the opportunity to play first grade I'll certainly take it though. I never expected to get an opportunity last season but I did so hopefully I'll get a chance along the way."
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