By the time Josh Morris’ new four year deal ends, he will have been a Bulldog for 10 seasons. A decade-long player at any club is significant enough, but even more so for Morris, who never thought he would extend his stay at the club when his first contract ended after joining Canterbury from St George Illawarra in 2009.
Morris always believed that at some point he would return to play alongside twin brother Brett at the Dragons. The Dragons tried hard again to secure Josh but the Australian centre rejected their approach to stay at Canterbury until at least the end of 2018.
Morris said he “definitely” thought he would return to the Dragons at some stage having been squeezed out to accommodate Matt Cooper and Mark Gasnier.
“I was young back then and I didn’t want to leave,” Morris said. “I always thought I’d end up back there. Certainly I had some thoughts to go back there again. Brett and I have wanted to play alongside each other and I had to take that into account.
“The discussions we’ve had with my manager and the Bulldogs has always been the Dragons have been the only other club. That’s purely because we didn’t want to give anyone the wrong idea. There were discussions with the Dragons and they were very interested but I think moving forward I’ve made the right decision.
“The club has done everything right by me, they were the ones who gave me a chance when the Dragons let me go. Brett was a little bit disappointed but fully supportive.”
The brothers have played representative football alongside each other and roomed together at the recent World Cup. Josh said the pair spoke almost daily during the tour about lining up next to each other.
“Some days you think you could be leaving and then other days you really want to stay,” Morris said. “To be here for four years will take me to 10 years and that’s certainly a great achievement.
“I’ve played alongside some great Bulldog players like Andrew Ryan, Luke Patten and Hazem El Masri. Hopefully by the time I retire I can be in the same category and class having played here for so long and being such a great servant for the club.”
Morris joins James Graham and new recruit Andrew Fifita on long-term contracts at the Bulldogs while Josh Reynolds, Tim Lafai and Aiden Tolman are all secured until the end of 2017.
He will be 32 when his contract expires.
“We’re a fair chance [of winning a premiership] if we do everything right,” Morris said. “It’s been 10 years since the Bulldogs won one and the fans are screaming out for one and as players we really want one
"The squad we have are going to be together for three years. It’s rare to have a squad like ours.”
While the chance of the brothers again playing alongside each other at club level remain remote, Josh hasn’t given up hope of luring Brett to the Bulldogs when his contract ends at the end of next year.
“You never say never,” Josh said. “He can feel my wrath for a little while. Maybe when we are older we can play for the Kiama Knights and have a season there.”