Back where it all began: Grant's happy homecoming

Tim Grant is back where it all began at Penrith and determined to finish his rollercoaster career on a high.

It's a far cry from the days he was touted as NSW's next best prop after steamrolling Petero Civoniceva in game two of the 2012 State of Origin series.

Grant's shock departure at the Panthers in 2014 halted any momentum he'd created early on in his career, along with a tough run of injuries at various stages.

His move to South Sydney in 2015 started off well but ultimately ended shaky - the prop released one season into a four-year contract.

"Hindsight is a good thing and if I knew what I knew now back then maybe I wouldn't have left Penrith in the first place," Grant told NRL.com.

"Some guys leave Penrith and do well, their lifestyle changes and they move away from the place. For me I did all that and it made me realise I missed the area and club.

Panthers prop Tim Grant.
Panthers prop Tim Grant. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"I'm more mature coming back to the club than when I left. I've had three or four different coaches and feel like I understand the commercial side of the game and how other footy clubs operate.

"It's been a life lesson and one I've enjoyed along the way."

Grant had tried to return to the club on more than one occasion, including when things went pear-shaped at the Rabbitohs.

He continued to keep an eye on the Panthers throughout his time at the Wests Tigers.

"I was persistent but things just didn't align," Grant said.

"Now it's the opportunity to finish off the way I wanted. I could've gone overseas but I wanted to finish off on my own terms in a black jersey."

Where Grant will fit into Ivan Cleary's plans for the 2019 season is yet to be determined. Even the veteran forward isn't sure on what his role may entail.

He played just five games under Cleary at the Wests Tigers in 2018 before announcing his homecoming in July, four months before the Panthers were able to lure their former coach back as well.

The squad have lost Trent Merrin and Corey Harawira-Naera in the forward pack, while experienced prop Tim Browne retired midway through last season.

Sam McKendry is also no certainty to return to the field in 2019.

"There's going to be gaps throughout the season with rep footy so there'll always be an opportunity and then there's off the field as well, just providing support for the younger guys," Grant said.

"Whatever I can do, if I fill in or get a permanent role, I'm happy to do either.

"The bottom line was I wanted to play for Penrith again, I never looked at the contract or what the offer was … I was going to accept it either way."