Manly local Darcy Lussick says he is delighted to be back at the club he grew up supporting and to renewing the fierce Manly versus Parramatta rivalry wearing maroon and white rather than the blue and gold of the past three seasons.
There has been a healthy flow of traffic between the two clubs in recent seasons – current Eels mentor Brad Arthur was a Manly assistant coach and current Eels Anthony Watmough, Kieran Foran and Will Hopoate all became stars on the northern beaches through the Manly junior ranks. David Gower and new recruits Clint Gutherson and James Hasson also joined the Eels from Manly.
Going back the other way, Manly had a coup almost a decade ago snaring former Eels star and current captain Jamie Lyon on his return from the UK and in recent years have been heavily bolstered by Eels juniors such as Jamie Buhrer, David Williams and Jorge Taufua and before that Tony Williams. Current squad members Justin Horo, Feleti Mateo and Brayden Wiliame are former Eels.
There have been others recently who have moved to Manly from Parramatta or vice versa: Cheyse Blair, Richie Fa'aoso, Trent Hodkinson... we could go on.
Not many have jumped the fence twice like Lussick now has though.
In attendance at Manly's official 70th anniversary festivities this week, Lussick laughed when reminded of the heavy traffic of NRL contracts moving between the northern beaches and western Sydney in recent years.
"Yeah, I don't know if it's all coincidence or what it is," he said.
"But because of that there's probably a bit of a rivalry there at the moment.
"The last couple of years there's been some good clashes against each other so hopefully that continues."
Lussick – an oft-suspended firebrand in his three years at Parramatta – will no doubt walk the walk as well as talking the talk when hostilities resume in 2016.
Now 26, and yet to cement himself as a genuine starting NRL prop, Lussick said there are no more excuses as he looks to stamp himself in a forward pack that is all of a sudden looking very stacked with the recruitment of not just himself but Kiwi enforcer Marty Taupau and Kangaroos and Maroons hardman Nate Myles.
The return of Brenton Lawrence from a back injury that ruined his 2015 season and the emergence of impressive young front rower Jake Trbojevic means Lussick will be battling not just for a spot in the starting 13 but even the 17 come Round 1.
"I'm 26 now so there's no excuses, I'm mature enough now and I know what's expected of me and I'm looking forward to getting out there," he said.
"There's no secret that we've got a great backline so I guess it's up to the forwards to provide them with something to play off. I think we have a pretty good team this year but it's all about how we turn up."
The Beacon Hill Bears junior said he is delighted to be back where it all started.
"It's great to be back. I grew up here my whole life so to come back, I'm definitely thankful," he said.
"I dreamt my whole life when I was growing up of playing for Manly. When you're away from the place you realise how special it is to be a local junior and play for the club you supported since you were three or four years old. I'm so thankful to be back here and do my best for the team."
He noted there had been plenty of changes in the three years he'd been away – not just to the roster, although he said it's good to see plenty of his mates still on the playing roster – but with a whole new coaching staff and upgraded facilities.
"There's been a lot of changes. There are still a lot of players here I'm mates with. The facilities have improved dramatically. It's looking like being a good year," Lussick said.
"We get our own gym, all the recovery facilities, field, we've got everything we need or could possibly want so it's great. Everything we need to perform at our best."
He said he hadn't yet had a chance to talk to new head coach Trent Barrett about exactly what will be expected of him.
"I haven't talked to 'Baz' too much really about what he wants from me yet but my first impressions are great and I'm looking forward to working with them all," he said.