Benji Marshall has opened up about the emotional moment he found out he was returning to Wests Tigers, as well as the circumstances that saw him leave the club in the first place.
The 32-year-old will return to Leichhardt in 2018, four years after leaving the club to play rugby union.
After a failed stint with the Auckland Blues, as well as stints back in the NRL with the Dragons and Broncos, Marshall says he was brought to tears when Tigers coach Ivan Cleary told him he was willing to give him another chance.
“I cried, I’m not going to lie. I got very emotional when I thought about what it would be like to come back,” Marshall told 20FOUR.
“This is the first time I’ve been back since I signed and I still get goosebumps. I’ve got a lot of memories that go through my head.
“People sitting on rooftops of the houses watching ... the amount of attention you get walking through the gates from the fans, the same people who are in the same place every week. It’s crazy.”
However Marshall also revealed the anger he felt when shown the door back in 2013.
“2013 for some reason was just ugly on and off the field ... it’s probably one that I’d rather forget to be fair,” Marshall said.
“When you’re not wanted, how do you stay? That was the hard part for me.
“I definitely felt mistreated at the time, I was angry there for a bit.
“Just the feel of not being wanted when you’ve been there for so long, and the feel of not feeling like a family after it felt like a family for so long is what hurt me the most.”
The Tigers failed to offer Marshall a contract extension, keen to focus on the future with young halves Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks.
Moses has since moved to Parramatta, paving the way for Marshall's return.
However the Kiwi veteran will probably have to settle for a back-up role, with Brooks and fellow recruit Josh Reynolds likely to start.
“(Cleary) said yep, no worries, as long as you know that when you come here I’ve got Brooksy playing halfback and Josh Reynolds playing five-eighth ... it could be a similar role to the one you’re playing at Brisbane,” Marshall said.
“I said I don’t care, I know what I can do at training. I explained to him how I thought I could help the club and the effect I could have.
“All the things I said to him must have had hit home because he made a decision pretty quick smart that he wanted me to be a part of those plans going forward.
“We didn’t talk about money ... I said if you’re happy I’m happy, and we shook hands pretty much there and then.”