New recruit Robbie Rochow says a conversation with Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire was the main reason he chose South Sydney over a deal with the Sharks.
The former NSW Country representative was on the verge of signing with the defending premiers midway through last season but opted for a one-year deal with the Bunnies because of his relationship with Maguire.
The 26-year-old former Storm player had one season with Maguire while he was an assistant at Melbourne before the now Rabbitohs mentor moved to Wigan for a two-year coaching deal in the English Super League.
"He was mainly the attacking coach and he spent a lot of time working with our back-rowers in Melbourne. He basically worked on the finer parts of attack with individual players," Rochow told NRL.com.
"I did a brief amount of work – it was nothing extensive – but I took a lot out of those moments. Rugby league is a great game where you can build connections off the smallest amounts of time with people.
"When you're making a decision to change clubs, you've got to look at the head coach, the playing group and where you're going to live.
"Working with a few of these players before and being familiar with Michael Maguire's setup – and having a good chat with him and a couple of players like 'GI' (Greg Inglis) – that was probably the main thing that got me here.
"I thought looking at the roster there was an opportunity to work and develop with some of the players."
The luckless forward was restricted to just 13 matches over the past two seasons due to bulging discs in his back as well as back-to-back broken arms that halted his time in Newcastle.
But Rabbitohs fans needn't worry about his health, with Rochow declaring himself 100 per cent fit heading into the new season and with a point to prove at his new club.
"My injuries were unfortunate. I probably didn't come back 100 per cent after breaking my arm, and if you're not 100 per cent in this game you're opening yourself up to some more injuries," he said.
"While it was frustrating, I think I dealt with it pretty well. It's not something I want to be good at, but I am good at dealing with injuries. You learn to deal with it, and I'm extremely grateful to have some truly amazing people in my life. They always keep you positive.
"I've done everything this pre-season – I haven't missed any sessions – so I'm feeling really fit. I don't feel like anything is holding me back so I'm ready to get on the field and get back into it."
Rabbitohs skipper Greg Inglis said it was good to see his former Storm teammate back on the paddock and backed him to succeed at his new club.
"You knew he was going to be a player. He was one of those guys that asked questions and wanted to learn whenever possible," said Inglis, who recalled their brief time together in Melbourne.
"He just wanted to get back to playing footy [here at Souths]. He's had little niggles over the years and I think we bought him at the right time. He's done a great job in Newcastle. He's an exceptional player, and off the field he ticks all the boxes."