Panthers lock Trent Merrin has expressed his delight in former Dragons teammate Mitch Rein joining the club for the 2017 Telstra Premiership season.
Rein signed a two-year deal to play at the foot of the mountains last month and will play back-up to veteran Panthers mainstay Peter Wallace.
Zac Hardaker's departure means there is potential for Rein to fill the English international's vacancy on the interchange too.
Rein – who is living in Merrin's unit while he's away playing for Australia at the Four Nations – comes to the Panthers after 132 NRL games at the Dragons.
"I'm really excited to have him at the Panthers. I know how hard it is to leave the only club you've ever known, especially on the terms he did," Merrin told NRL.com following Australia's 36-18 win over England on Monday morning (AEDT).
"It's really tough for him. He was in limbo for a period there. He didn't know what he was going to do.
"Luckily enough he received a lifeline at the Panthers so I expect him to take the opportunity with both hands."
Merrin hopes Rein will overcome the disappointment of leaving the Dragons, where he's played for the past decade.
Merrin is one of very few players who can relate to the Kiama Knights junior as he too made the jump from the Dragons only 12 months ago.
"I know what the [Panthers] did for me when I arrived in terms of what they taught me in such a short space of time. I know Mitch will do the same," Merrin said.
"He just has to make this opportunity his own and simplify his game. He can't dwell on what's happened and what's been. Mitch needs to focus on what his next job is."
The recent freak rock-fishing accident to Peter Wallace – where he required emergency surgery after cutting open both his hands – has offered Rein the perfect opportunity to show his worth.
"Mitch Rein is going to be a crucial player no matter what. Whether it's this year or the next few," Merrin said.
"The development the club has there among the coaching staff and Gussy (Penrith General Manager Phil Gould) means he'll definitely be an asset to the team somewhere.
"Peter Wallace is our hooker and I know Reiny is going to learn a lot off him. Wal is someone everyone looks up to in our team and it'll definitely do the world of good for Mitch's career and the Panthers."
Merrin is confident that Wallace would overcome his latest setback.
"He slipped on some oysters and the outcome was horrible. I sent him a text wishing him well. He'll bounce back from that," Merrin said.
"He's been through worse so we're all confident he'll do the right things by it."
This article first appeared on NRL.com.