Jamal Idris says he's keen to reach his potential and help a young Wests Tigers side reach theirs after signing with the club for the 2017 season.
The former NSW Origin and Kangaroos player took a year out of the game in 2016 after stints in the NRL with the Bulldogs, Titans and Panthers, but after travelling the world he's more keen than ever to get back to rugby league.
"[I'm] pretty excited. I took a year off and it's exactly what I needed at that time but I'll tell you this much, halfway through it I definitely missed it," Idris told weststigers.com.au.
"I've signed with the Tigers and my dad's pretty excited – he's a Wests Tigers fan, and as soon as he found out he pulled out the old picture of my when I was four years old giving the Tiger a high five back in the day at Campbelltown.
"I came back on my own terms – I wanted to come back – and I think that's probably the main thing about it. You wouldn't think you'd miss it but when I was over there I actually kept tuning in to see where everyone is on the ladder and it was getting me excited watching replays, even Origin."
Idris, a pure natural talent but not a renowned trainer, admitted getting back into an NRL pre-season wasn't easy.
"The first week was definitely tough," he laughed.
"But there's no better way to get back into it than by getting smashed, and that's exactly what happened.
"The second week I picked up and improved a lot, and I'm just hoping to do the same, week in, week out."
Idris said the Wests Tigers' focus on youth and the chance to play alongside rising talents like James Tedesco, Mitch Moses and Luke Brooks played a big part in his decision to join the club.
"For me to be honest with you it's that there's a lot of up and coming young players. The average age is probably 21 or 22 years old, and a lot of them don't have much experience," he said.
"They're only going to get better, and if they all get experience together they're going to gel as a team as well."
Having already reached the heights of State of Origin and international football – albeit with just a single game to his name at both levels – Idris is now focused on making the most of his ability.
"I guess I learned a lot over the past year and for me [in the past] I was playing league for others. Now I'm playing for myself.
"My goal now is to actually get to my peak potential. That's what I want to do."
This article first appeared on NRL.com