North Queensland Cowboys prop Griffin Neame returned home to New Zealand for the first time in over two years during the off-season to finally reunite with his family after making his NRL debut.

The 21-year-old debuted in Round 22, 2021 against the Wests Tigers and went on to have a breakout season last year, primarily providing impact off the bench across 23 games last season.

Speaking to the media upon the resumption of Cowboys training from the Christmas break, Neame opened up on just how good it was to go home.

“Yeah it was awesome. I've been stuck over here [in Australia] for a couple of years cause of COVID, so I got home for the off-season which was a good time, I had about four weeks there, but I finally got to go home for Christmas, which I've missed the last two Christmas' so that was awesome,” he told Fox Sports.

“It was a bit hard leaving as well, but I think mum and dad were pretty happy to have me home, especially probably my grandparents as well, who are getting a bit older now, so that was awesome to see them”.

He went on to discuss his aspirations to become a starter for the Cowboys and how he knows it's up to him after conversations with his coach Todd Payten.

“I think just the way I've come in, it's off the bench and bringing an impact and that was my role all year and I'd say I'll be doing the same thing this year, I definitely want to push for a starting spot and yeah whenever Toddy thinks I'm ready I'll definitely take it with both hands” he continued.

“I had a couple of conversations [with Payten] obviously it's up to me to try to get there, he can only guide me there. So I've got to just keep pushing my way in there”.

The Cowboys will start their season against the Canberra Raiders on March 4th, where Neame will face a tough challenge to get into the starting line-up over the likes of Reuben Cotter, Jordan McLean and new addition James Tamou.