Much-maligned Dragons playmaker Corey Norman has admitted the Dragons made the right call in choosing not to re-sign him for 2022 and beyond as he looks to remain in Australia.
Admitting his big paydays are behind him, the five-eight told media he would prefer to take a pay cut and remain at home, then move to England.
However, with the club heading in a different direction thanks to an influx of young talent in their junior ranks, Norman can see why the club made the decision it did.
Some of that talent has already made it into first grade over the last 12 months. Adam Clune is the experienced campaigner attempting to crack first grade, but the future of the Red V lies in youth.
Jayden Sullivan and Junior Amone, who led the club to back-to-back SG Ball titles over the last two seasons have both had a taste of NRL action, while fullback Tyrell Sloan, who made his top grade debut in the week before Origin 2 against the Raiders.
Norman said that he understood where the club was heading.
"The club is heading in a good direction and it's the right call," Norman said.
"Obviously I would have preferred to stay here but I'm a realist and I can see what they're trying to do."
While resigned to the fact he won't be offered another deal in Wollongong, Norman is still hopeful of landing an NRL position. His utility value as a five-eighth and fullback would make it a surprise if he missed a contract altogether, particularly given how many clubs are struggling.
In one of the most lop-sided NRL seasons ever, the top five teams have lost just 15 games between them out of a possible 73. Even more concerning is that just five of those losses have come against sides outside the top five, however, two of those were the Panthers without Origin players.
Norman still has speed and agility, illustrated by eight try assists, two tries and nine offloads in 14 games this year.
Even so, Norman knows he won't be attracting a big payday and isn't willing to move to England in an attempt to get one.
"Obviously I would prefer to stay in Australia," Norman said.
"I know my big paydays have been and gone now. So, it ain't even about the money anymore.
"If I'm playing good football and the team's going well and we make the finals, I believe football always sorts that kind of stuff out."
Norman is not yet reported to have gained interest from any NRL club. The Dragons have a run of games against the Warriors, Sea Eagles (likely without Tom Trbojevic two days after Origin) and Titans coming up though which may allow Norman to put himself in the shop window.