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Bulldogs recruit Joe Stimson.

When a player leaves the Melbourne Storm the first question usually is: Why?

For second-rower Joe Stimson the answer comes in two parts. Firstly, the Storm said he was free to look elsewhere and secondly, his chances of playing NRL regularly in the NRL were starting to dry up.

When a player chooses a club that has finished no higher than 11th in the past three seasons, the question is again: Why?

"I had a great opportunity to come here [to Canterbury] and improve my footy and a great opportunity to play more minutes," Stimson told

"The way the back-rowers were playing down in Melbourne, I saw myself as mainly a back-up there. I hope to be one of those getting a starting spot here."

Stimson played in all three finals games, including the grand final, for Storm in 2018. But he did not figure in any of Storm's 2019 finals teams.

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"I had a [lower back] disc injury at the start of the year [missed opening 10 rounds] so that didn't help me at all.

"It set me back and then the way Kenny Bromwich started the year, you just have to respect that good form," Stimson said.

"He had it so he got the opportunities. I had to go the long way around. I got myself back on the bench for a little bit but that's where I stayed really."

From his three NRL seasons with the Storm, he had the leanest year in 2019 playing just 12 games. But he also had his best year for scoring tries – five.

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"They said to me I could look around. By the sounds of it – and without actually saying it – there was no contract for me next year [2020]," Stimson said.

"I owe a lot to the Storm but I was grateful the Bulldogs came knocking."

The Temora-bred product could have had other suitors if he'd looked around longer. He's a former captain of the Storm's Under-20s side and has over 50 NRL games experience.

He was partly drawn by the reputation and history of the Bulldogs forwards.

"I'm sure it comes from the way they appreciate their past players. Everyone who has ever played first grade has their name on the wall down in the gym," Stimson said.

"There's pictures of guys who have played over 100 games. You're surrounded by the history here and I admire that.

"They've set a standard in this jersey so it's up to us to train hard and keep that going."

His first impressions of head coach Dean Pay are highly favourable.

"He's great to have a conversation with. He's quite approachable and listens to what you have to say, which is nice – and a bit old school like Craig [Bellamy]."

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As for his new teammates, one stands out as he's also a former Storm player and new recruit for 2020 – Dean Britt.

"Deano … I know him very well. We're best mates. I lived with him for two years in Melbourne."

Is that the reason you came to Belmore?

"No, I signed before him so he's come to be with me. He copied me."

So now it's just up to Stimson to take his footy where he wants it to go.

"I just want to back myself a bit more. I don't think I've reached my potential of where I can get to.

 "I want to play with confidence in the abilities that I have – passing the footy and being a bit more aggressive.

"I was a little tentative going into some games, not as confident as I wanted to be. I'm learning to appreciate that I deserve to be there and I can make a difference."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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