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Grateful Merrin says he'll give Dragons value for money

Trent Merrin insists he has nothing to prove in his return for the Dragons but the veteran forward believes he can recapture his best form.

Merrin, who left his junior club to join Penrith in 2016, is grateful to be back after a tough personal period.

Having played for Super League strugglers Leeds Rhinos last season, some have questioned the value of signing the 30-year-old on a two-year deal.

But the premiership-winning former NSW and Australian lock, who has played 205 NRL games, isn't bothered by any negative opinions as he sets about repaying St George Illawarra's faith.

"I've done everything in the game, I know what it takes to be the best and to work really hard to put myself in good positions," Merrin said.

"The main objective was to test myself now, bring my family back home, be happy.

"My partner and I are starting a family now and I think that's the chapter we're looking forward to.

"When you're in a happy place and you're very professional as an athlete - you put those two together and you can make some pretty special things happen."

Merrin: It gives me goosebumps

Older and wiser, and boasting more leadership experience after captaining Leeds, Merrin is keen to mentor some emerging players.

It's a selfless mindset the skilful Shellharbour product admits he didn't always have.

"It's team-first now. Back in the day it was always trying to make a name for myself and put myself forward," Merrin said.

"But the circle of life now, coming back here at a decent age, it's about putting the team first and putting the club back where it deserves to be [after finishing 15th in 2019].

"You'll probably get the best out of me the next few years. The Dragons have taken a big punt on me, taking me back home and doing the right thing by me.

"I'll definitely be doing everything I can to produce some of my best footy."

Merrin says his passion for St George Illawarra never waned and he always hoped to return to the joint-venture outfit.

While he has no regrets, Merrin only departed the club in the first place because he thought it was necessary to develop as a footballer and a person.

"When you're at that age, you're surrounded by people. Everyone wants to put their input in and say their two pieces," Merrin said.

"It's hard to just look within yourself and make a decision based on your own feelings.

"A lot came into it. I was still a young pup. I was still being coached by [former teammates] Dean Young and Benny Hornby. At that time I felt like I needed to break away and grow for myself.

Trent Merrin during his stint at Penrith in 2018.
Trent Merrin during his stint at Penrith in 2018. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"I think I was always looked upon as the junior around those blokes. I really needed to go away and spread my own wings and learn a lot about myself.

"It wasn't about going to a different club, it was a growth period. I've done that the last few years, I've gone away and learned a lot."

Having begun pre-season training three weeks late, Merrin's main focus is on working hard and enjoying the little things.

"I've been on a rollercoaster for the past few years but I feel like I've finally found my feet back home," he said.

"It gives me some goosebumps. It feels like I'm debuting again."