CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 15: Ben Hampton of the Storm looks to pass the ball during the round 23 NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Melbourne Storm at GIO Stadium on August 15, 2016 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

Mareeba product Ben Hampton says family played a big part in his decision to join the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys on a three-year deal.

Hampton, 24, was officially unveiled as the newest Cowboy at the club’s launch of its

2017 jersey range and new sternum jersey sponsor Bundaberg Rum on Thursday.

The young utility returns to the North after a lengthy stint at the Melbourne Storm.

He played 35 NRL games over four seasons for the men in purple, including coming off the bench in the 2016 NRL grand final against the Cronulla Sharks.

“As soon as I started talking to the Cowboys, I was really excited at the prospect of coming back up here to North Queensland and for me, it was a really good thing to be closer to family,” Hampton said.

“I’ve been away from home for a long time and only catch up with my family a couple of times a year.

“(Coming home) has been a big thing for myself and also how successful the club has been in the past couple of years … I was really keen to be a part of that.”

Hampton said he was thrilled to start a new chapter in his rugby league journey, and is looking forward to ripping into pre-season for his new club next month.

“I’ve only played one NRL game up here but have made the trip to Townsville a few times, both as an 18th man and with the (Storm) under-20s team,’’ he said.

“The fans seem unreal up here and I’m pretty keen to run out in front of a full home crowd one day.”

A truly versatile footballer who played almost every backline position during his time at Melbourne, Hampton said he was keen to put his best foot forward in the pre-season in a bid to crack into the Cowboys’ top 17 in 2017.

“I’ve still got a couple of weeks to relax, but after a strong pre-season, I’m hopeful of setting myself up for a good year and push for a spot come Round 1 next season,” he said.

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