BEAU Champion knew how much his old club the Rabbitohs had changed while he was at the Titans last year.
Respected mentor Michael Maguire came in and re-vitalised the club, helping the Redfern outfit to a preliminary final appearance, and its best season since 1989.
So when he got the opportunity to be a part of that changed landscape, he couldn't contain his enthusiasm.
Tonight, just a month after signing a two-year contract, Champion will run out for South Sydney against St George Illawarra in the traditional Charity Shield trial at ANZ Stadium.
The 26-year-old veteran of 90 games played 70 matches for the red and green from 2005 to 2010, after only managing nine appearances for the Gold Coast during an injury-plagued 2012.
"A lot of new staff has come in, there's a new culture around the place and it's just great to be a part of," Champion said.
"I'd heard a lot about it being up at the Gold Coast and having a lot of friends here.
"You can notice the difference in culture, the professionalism. A lot of things have changed since I've been away."
Champion was forced to leave Souths before the 2011 season to make way for Greg Inglis, playing a year in Melbourne before moving to the sunshine state.
He was lured back down south with the Bunnies looking to find another centre combination, following Inglis's move to fullback.
"We've got some really good outside backs, with the quality of Matt King, Dylan Farrell, Bryson Goodwin and players of that calibre," he said.
"There was never a guarantee and I knew that when I came down here. I knew I had to work really hard, and it was something I probably needed as well.
"When you string two games together, and then you get injured, and string another three games together (while at the Titans) it's very difficult to get any consistency in your game.
"I've learnt a lot from it."
Meanwhile, Dragons forward Jack de Belin said he was delighted to see prop Michael Weyman return from a knee injury, in time to take on a formidable Souths pack.
"It benefits us young fellas a lot because he knows how to chip in and tell you what you're doing wrong and what you're doing right," he said.
"You'd have to say the Rabbitohs have a top-four forward pack.
"They've got some big boys in there that - once they get a good roll on - they are hard to stop."
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