After the protracted saga late in the 2022 season, some Wests Tigers fans were unlikely to believe Isaiah Papali'i would actually join the club and honour his deal until they saw him in club colours at a training session.

Even those stoic deniers can now rejoice after the 24-year-old made an appearance at the club's pre-season training, chatting with the likes of Benji Marshall and taking in the brand-new facilities while adorned in club colours.

As the 2022 season drew to a close Papali'i was constantly hounded by questions about whether or not he would fulfil his deal and join the last-placed Tigers after a grand final run with Parramatta – a question he repeatedly refused to answer, which fuelled the speculation further.

NRL Rd 18 - Eels v Warriors
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 15: Isaiah Papali'i of the Eels thanks the crowd after the round 18 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the New Zealand Warriors at CommBank Stadium on July 15, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

But now Papali'i is ready to go, socialising with Marshall, Robbie Farah and David Furner as he familiarised himself with his new environment. He even met with new coach Tim Sheens one-on-one.

“It's pretty unreal,” Papali'i said of the club's new facility, per the Daily Telegraph.

“I've never seen anything like it to be honest.

“I'm really excited to be here and around the boys, meeting the coaching staff. I can't wait to use these facilities in the new year.

Papali'i has just returned from the World Cup and joins David Klemmer and Apisai Koroisau as the club's headline recruits, and the man himself believes each new signing will help the club regain their reputation.

“I really look forward to working with the boys and everyone in this squad, so when the new season rolls around we'll be ready to go,” Papali'i said.

After an exhausting season in which he took the field 34 times in total (28 NRL games and six Tests), Papali'i will now head to New Zealand to spend time with his family and partner, before returning to start his Tigers tenure in earnest in early January.

“The body feels okay but it's been a long season,” he said.

“I'm really looking forward to heading back to New Zealand for Christmas and spending time with my family and friends, and my partner.

“It's been a while since I last spent Christmas back home with the family, so I'm really grateful for that.

“I can't wait to relax and unwind so that when I return in January I'm ready and raring to go.”