The St George Illawarra Dragons are confident the gamble to sign George Burgess is one that will pay off after the club confirmed his arrival next season.
The announcement comes two months after the club first held informal discussions with George Burgess, the premiership winner signing a two-year contract.
The talks were initially described as preliminary after the 29-year-old reached out to Dragons assistant coach Peter Gentle.
Discussions soon progressed and as Burgess continued his recovery from a serious hip operation the two sides came closer to achieving a deal.
That has now been signed, with the former South Sydney prop to remain with the club until the end of 2023 on what is understood to be a contract with performance-based incentives.
Burgess played 149 games across eight seasons for the Rabbitohs and featured in the 2014 grand final victory.
The agreement clearly has risks, given Burgess' age, recent injury history and absence from the NRL since the end of 2019.
St George Illawarra, however, are confident the veteran will prove a vital addition to the forward pack over the next two seasons, particularly since Paul Vaughan was fired following the infamous barbecue last month.
"George will make a significant contribution to us here at the Dragons on and off the field; his experience and career achievements will only have a positive influence on the development of the younger players currently within our squad," Dragons head of football Ben Haran said.
"While he has some obstacles still to overcome following his well-documented surgery, our medical staff have already commenced working with George on his rehabilitation.
"Everyone is committed to helping George get back to his fighting best ahead of the 2022 season, but no person more than George himself. We're looking forward to him and his family joining the club."
Burgess made eight appearances for Wigan in the English Super League last season before he was struck down by injury.
The 29-year-old was released from his contract in February and underwent surgery to heal the chronic hip condition.
Burgess' arrival in Wollongong comes amid a wider overhaul of the St George Illawarra roster.
Joining him at the club are Queensland representative pair Jaydn Su'A and Francis Molo, while Corey Norman, Matt Dufty and Jordan Pereira will all depart at the end of the year.
Kaide Ellis has signed with Wigan in the Super League and Brayden Wiliame is set to play rugby union in France.
With so many players heading out the door, Griffin has turned his focus to developing a crop of talented youngsters that includes Jayden Sullivan, Talatau Amone, Mat and max Feagai, and Tyrell Sloan.