Jamie Soward has revealed a brief stint playing for perennial Super League strugglers London Broncos helped him rediscover his love for rugby league.
The former NSW five-eighth made a successful debut for Penrith on Saturday, helping his new club see off Newcastle 30-8 at Sportingbet Stadium.
Soward endured a torrid 2013 that saw him fall out with St George Illawarra coach Steve Price who axed him from the side following a round 12 defeat by Canterbury.
The following week he then faced the ignominy of playing in the NSW Cup for Illawarra Cutters in the curtain-raiser to the Dragons' NRL clash with Newcastle.
It was all a far cry from the heady heights of the 2010 grand final win over the Sydney Roosters and helping NSW beat Queensland in game two of the 2011 series.
So when the opportunity arose to travel to the northern hemisphere and spend time in the English capital, Soward jumped at the chance.
"London was awesome, the coach Tony Rae was great with me, I had a really good time," Soward said.
"It was eye opening in the way he wanted me to play footy. They are doing it pretty tough over there but I had a great time and I think it's helped me relax more.
"I was excited to go over there, go travelling, and do the things I can't do here and it was a great time.
"I still talk to those boys and I suppose it was life-changing for me because I wasn't enjoying myself at the Dragons. I am really lucky to get a second chance here and Penrith and I am hoping I can show what I can do."
Soward enjoyed a solid debut against the Knights, setting up the first try for fellow debutant Elijah Taylor and showing signs of forming a good partnership with new halfback Peter Wallace.
The 27-year-old has openly admitted in the past he's a player that thrives on being confident and happy and re-acquainting himself with Panthers general manager Phil Gould who he knew from his junior days with the Sydney Roosters.
He said Gould was a big reason for him joining the club.
"I have spoken before about how important 'Gus' is to the Penrith club and to me personally," he said.
"His a very influential man and professional in everything he does. Over the last couple of months I've been able to just call and have a chat about footy and other stuff.
"He's been really helpful and I think we are very lucky to have him at the club."
Who is your pick for international league player of the year?Related story: (See story)