Australian playmaker Mitchell Pearce says the prospect of a new challenge in a new environment lay behind his move to Super League in the south of France.
The 32-year-old scrum-half, who played over 300 NRL games and made 19 State of Origin appearances, has been signed by Catalans Dragons to plug the gap created by the retirement of fellow Aussie James Maloney.
Pearce has previously said his break-up with former professional dancer Kristin Scott led to the "worst year of my life".
The timing was right when Dragons coach Steve McNamara, who worked with Pearce at Sydney Roosters, offered him a two-year deal and he subsequently obtained a release from the last year of his contract with Newcastle.
"I had a break up last year with my ex-fiancee, so it was a bit of a tough year and that was one reason," Pearce said at his first press conference as a Catalans player on Thursday.
"It was something different when Steve and the club approached me. It opened my curiosity. Something was stimulating me about coming overseas.
"I had one more season at Newcastle but the opportunity to come over here for a couple of years presented a new challenge, a new environment and a chance to get out of the same bubble that I'd been in for a long time in the NRL.
"Something inside me was stimulated by that. I can't exactly explain it but the more I dived into it, it felt right and, since coming over here, I'm really grateful I've taken it.
"It's been a breath of fresh air and I'm really motivated for the next couple of years. I couldn't feel more comfortable."
The Perpignan club made history in 2021 by lifting the league leaders' shield and reaching a maiden grand final but he says there is a burning desire to go one step further after losing to St Helens at Old Trafford.
"Since I got here, I can see how hungry the boys are after losing last year," he said.
"They were honoured to make the grand final but you can see how much hunger there is to go that one step further.
"I want to be a part of that, it was a big reason I came over."
The Catalans open their league campaign at Saints in a rematch of the grand final on Thursday, February 10, and warm up for it with a trial match against Super League new boys Toulouse at Stade Gilbert Brutus on Saturday.
"I've loved the training," Pearce added. "It's a really professional club and a great bunch of blokes. They are a really close group, I picked up on that since I walked through the door.
"The boys have worked really hard and everyone is ready to get out there and get our first trial run this weekend."
Australian Associated Press
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