James Roberts's career at Brisbane has come to an end after he was granted an immediate release to take up an offer with South Sydney.
Roberts's uncle Amos Roberts flew to Brisbane on Tuesday and finalised the release with chief executive Paul White on compassionate grounds.
The former NSW centre made the first 10 of his 131 Telstra Premiership appearances with Souths in 2011 but was sacked by the club the following year before stints at Penrith and the Gold Coast led him to Brisbane in 2016.
He played 79 matches at the Broncos, scoring 49 tries and earning higher honours with NSW, lining up in all three matches of the Blues' Origin series win last year.
"I'm really excited to be coming back to Souths and playing under Wayne again," Roberts said in a statement released by Souths.
"There are some great players at this club and I can't wait to get into training and getting back on the field. I want to thank the Broncos for everything they've done for me and my family over the past four years, but it's time to move on and to be coming back to the club that I consider to be home is really special.
"I know what it means to the members, fans and the community to represent South Sydney."
It is understood Roberts will play his first match for South Sydney next weekend against Newcastle.
Broncos CEO Paul White said Roberts had reached out to the club and indicated his strong desire to return home to NSW with his partner and two young children.
"While we are disappointed to lose James, we understand his position – it wasn’t in the best interests of the club to stand in the way of a player who has expressed a honest and strong desire to return home," White said.
"We've always supported James since he arrived at our club, and we have continued to work really hard over recent months to keep him at the Broncos.
"He has gone through tough times and great times with us. He has had two children and represented his state while being a Bronco.
"But he strongly feels that he needs to act in the best interests of his family, and that means returning to his family support network in NSW.
"All parties have worked together to facilitate a result that is best for all involved. These decisions are difficult for the player and for the club, but one thing we do emphasise at the Broncos is that player welfare always comes into consideration when balancing decisions.
"This is the right decision for James, his family and our club."
Rabbitohs general manager of football Shane Richardson said: "James is a South Sydney junior who knows what it means to represent the Rabbitohs. He understands the standards set by 'The Rabbitoh Way'.
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"Make no bones about it, James is an immense talent, a player capable of representing his state and country under the right guidance, and we feel that James can return to his best football under Wayne [Bennett] and the senior players we have here.
"He will add great strike to our backline and through our discussions with him, we know he wants to return to South Sydney for the right reasons, and he wants to help deliver this club its 22nd premiership.
"We're all looking forward to seeing James back in the red and green jersey."