Former Canterbury Bulldogs, Sydney Roosters, North Queensland Cowboys, Newcastle Knights, Manly Sea Eagles, Hull KR and Catalan Dragons forward Willie Mason will return to the NRL in 2022 in a staff role with the Bulldogs.

The club where he made a name for himself during the first portion of his career, Mason played 148 games for the blue and white, and the club confirmed on Monday afternoon that he will work as a pathways transition coach.

The development comes after he was first spotted at a Bulldogs' training session prior to Christmas. It sparked plenty of speculation that Mason would be part of the coaching staff under director of football Phil Gould and head coach Trent Barrett in 2022, and that news has now been confirmed.

A club statement said Mason's role would work closely with players of all ages within the pathways role.

The statement also confirmed Mason has already started with the role, working also under the general manager of pathways and junior rugby league within the Canterbury-Bankstown district, Barry Ward.

Mason, alongside his 148 games with the Bulldogs, played 142 across the remaining NRL clubs, making him a 290-NRL game player, in addition to 20 games in the English Super League.

He also played 13 matches for New South Wales in the State of Origin arena, as well as 24 Tests for Australia and three for Tonga.