DRAGONS recruit Andrew McCullough has been around rugby league long enough to know that there's no changing some opinions. After 14 seasons and 268 NRL games, he's not about to start trying.
There's certainly a large, and vocal, section of Dragons fans convinced lionhearted skipper Cam McInnes was moved on for McCullough to re-unite with Anthony Griffin in Wollongong this season. There's others equally convinced he was unwanted in Brisbane.
The reality is not that simple, it never is in rugby league. The former Maroons hooker accepts those narratives are out of his control, but insists he never felt unwanted at his junior club.
"It wasn't the case and that's probably why it took so long because Kev [Walters] didn't want me to go," McCullough said.
"People can make their own assumptions but I've had a few chats with Kev and he said he didn't want me to go. That's why it took so long because the decision was up to me to either stick there for the year or take the three years here. That's why I took so long to make the call.
"It took a while, my head and my heart were fighting with each other. it was just a decision I had to make. It's not like they were wanting to leave or anything like that, it was up to me and I'm very grateful for both clubs in the position they were in.
"Did I think it was going to happen, no I didn't, but I think everything happens for a reason. The opportunity and security for myself and my wife is something that came about. It worked out the way it has and I'm just happy to get on with it now and do my job."
Reports of the Dragons pursuit of McCullough - who was released from the final year of his contract with Brisbane to shift to Wollongong for three years - came as the club allowed skipper and two-time Player of the Year McInnes to link with arch-rivals Cronulla from next season.
McInnes has now played his last game for the club after subsequently tearing his ACL at training a fortnight ago. It makes McCullough's signing even more crucial, but he accepts perceptions will linger.
"I had nothing to do with it, people might think I did, but it's nothing I can control or change," McCullough said.
"I think Cam's going to the Sharks as a lock, I knew he was playing hooker here as well, but I wasn't sure of the ins and outs of that. He'll be in a different boat when he goes to the Sharks, they might let someone else go, it's just the way footy works. Opportunity comes up for different players.
"People can make their own assumptions but all I know is what Cam's done here. He's a tremendous competitor, he trains hard, he works hard and you can certainly see why people love him and what he's about. It's obviously really tough for him to go down with the ACL because he's done such a tremendous job for this club."
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McCullough didn't have to wait long for his first outing in the Red V in a brief stint in the club's trial loss to the Eels last week. He'll get a much longer stint in Saturday's Charity Shield on Saturday but, after all the back and forth over where he'd land this season, it was a relief to finally get on the park.
"It was a bit of a drawn out process obviously, but when it all happened I had to get down here pretty quickly and I had one and a half sessions with the boys and then a 20-minute run with the boys last Thursday," he said.
"It was good to have that hit-out even though I didn't know a couple of the boys or certain players, it was just really good to get a run."