Cameron King leaned on Gerringong junior Tariq Sims for advice before announcing his switch to the Cowboys, claiming the Townsville-based club would provide the chance for him to be a "better player".
Having been forced to play deputy to first-choice hooker Mitch Rein in an injury-riddled season, King was released from the final year of his contract with the Dragons yesterday.
St George Illawarra have also locked up this year's National Youth Competition skipper Craig Garvey until the end of 2015, and Damien Cook is likely to stay despite being unsigned for 2014.
The No 9 has proved problematic for the coach-less Cowboys since Aaron Payne's retirement.
And they can thank Sims in part for helping lure King north with the prospect of more regular NRL appearances.
"We've been good mates for a few years now," King said of his former Junior Kangaroos teammate.
"He suggested I come up here too - he really likes it up here - and that was good enough for me.
"Football-wise they've got a great roster, and I feel like I can become a better player up here, play some regular first grade.
"To have a regular spot each week would be great, but there's a lot of work in front of me and getting through a big pre-season, and then it's up to the coach.
"I've had a rough couple of years down there with injuries. I thought a fresh start up here would be good for me. I'm looking forward to playing with them."
King also played with Cowboys centre Kane Linnett during their under-20s days in Wollongong, before the latter shifted to the Roosters and then North Queensland. Another Illawarra product, Ashton Sims, is also on the Cowboys' books.
King has been restricted to just 17 NRL games since making his debut as an 18-year-old with the Dragons in 2010, featuring in 11 matches this season.
But having seen close mate Jamie Soward granted a release mid-season, an unsettled King also opted for a new start.
"Over the few years I've struggled to play consistent games with shoulders and thumbs - just annoying stuff," King said.
"Hopefully I can get up here and have a fresh start and see how we go."
Cowboys manager Peter Parr General said they were looking for someone to strengthen their depth in that position and the young hooker fitted.
"It was an area we had identified as one we needed to improve if we are to continue to develop as a football team," Parr said.