HALFBACK Luke Capewell returns to Dolphin Oval with a winning culture firmly under his belt.
The cagey playmaker has spent the past year and a half with NRL club Penrith, guiding their NSW Cup side around the park and into two grand finals last season.
The Panthers took on the Newcastle Knights in the feeder competition decider after enjoying a stellar season in which they won 22 of their last 24 matches.
The Panthers completely dominated Newcastle, triumphing 48-12 to move on to the second-tier “Super Bowl” match against Intrust Super Cup winners the Northern Pride as a curtain-raiser to the South Sydney-Bulldogs NRL grand final.
History shows the Pride became the inaugural state champions, but not before a gigantic arm wrestle in which Penrith led 28-16 with 30 minutes to go, only to lose 32-28.
“I had a good year last season with Penrith in which we won one grand final and lost the other," said Capewell, who turns 26 this month.
“I really enjoyed my time there but it's good to be home.”
With 40 NRL appearances to his credit with South Sydney, Gold Coast and Brisbane, Capewell brings experience in spades to a Dolphins side that last season struggled for consistency.
Allowed by Redcliffe to start off-season training later, Capewell will still figure in his club's trial against the Broncos at Dolphin Oval on Saturday, February 21.
Although at five-eighth for the Panthers in the big matches with fellow Queenslander Tom Humble at halfback, Capewell said halfback was his slot for the 2015 season.
“Halfback is definitely my go,” he stated.
“From what I've seen on the training paddock, we have some pretty big boys for this season.
“They're training well but it's another story on how we go on the field.
“I definitely feel at home at Redcliffe. When my time in Sydney was up, it was an easy decision to come home.
“Crusher Cleal contacted me and I told him that the Dolphins was where I wanted to be.”
Capewell admitted most of the playing contingent were new to him, although fullback Joe Bond has followed the same path as him and returned from NSW Cup club the Mounties.
“There's heaps of new faces and when I left in 2013 John Dixon and now Troy Lindsay is in charge,” Capewell said.
“I saw Cow around the place when I was here last time and he was coaching the Colts.
“He's good to work with and it's great to have Tony Guilfoyle back on board as our conditioner.”
As a bonus, Capewell has brought giant second-rower Anthony Cherrington with him from Penrith.
The 26-year-old made his NRL debut for the Roosters in 2008, but has endured repeated anterior cruciate ligament injuries.
He joined the Panthers in 2013, but was unable to add to his NRL tally of 19 games.
“Anthony is going well at training and I can see him being one of our best this season,” Capewell said.
“He has experience and size and is a good player so he should suit our playing style.”
Originally published as: Capewell returns to home turf