Tom Opacic has detailed how a frank conversation in Wayne Bennett’s office opened the door for him to secure a two-year deal with North Queensland.
As he prepares to line up in the centres for the Redcliffe Dolphins in Sunday’s Intrust Super Cup grand final against Easts Tigers at Suncorp Stadium the 24-year-old has given credit to Bennett for releasing him to link with the Cowboys.
On August 8, the Broncos announced they had extended Opacic's deal until the end of 2020 but three weeks later it was revealed he had joined the Cowboys.
There had already been an offer from North Queensland and with the Broncos having James Roberts, Kotoni Staggs, Gehamat Shibasaki and Jordan Kahu on their books, Opacic decided to sound out the coach.
"I spoke to Wayne in his office and I said there was a really good opportunity for me to progress my career at the Cowboys and that I thought it would be a good move," he said.
"I asked for his thoughts and he agreed that a fresh start would be good for me. It was a really professional conversation and I am happy with how it was dealt with. He could have said ‘no’ because I had just signed for two years, and if he had I would have put in my best effort for the club, but I was lucky he knew where I was coming from.
"You look at the quality of the players in my position at the Broncos and it is always going to be hard to get a regular spot in that 17 but I think I can have a real good crack at it in North Queensland and becoming a regular starter."
Opacic intends to have one more conversation with Bennett after he finishes his commitments with the Dolphins.
"In the next month I am going to see Wayne and ask him for some advice on what I can do better and for a few tips that will help me get into the Cowboys starting side," he said.
First up, Opacic will play at left centre for Redcliffe outside former Manly and Gold Coast playmaker Cameron Cullen in the ISC decider. Broncos rookie Kotoni Staggs will line up at right centre.
There is plenty of strike in the Dolphins side as the club aims to end a 12-year premiership drought.
"It will be a massive achievement for me to win it, being a junior from Redcliffe. I went there in under 16s and played Cyril Connell and Mal Meninga [Cup] and my Colts there," Opacic said.
Opacic, who played 19 Telstra Premiership games for Brisbane, will be venturing into the great unknown when he leaves for Townsville.
The only players he knows are former Broncos duo Francis Molo and Carlin Anderson.
"I am really looking forward to having a new team and working with Paul Green,” he said.
"He’s led the Cowboys to two grand finals in the last four years and that speaks for itself. I had a bit to do with Paul in junior development courses at the Broncos. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had at Brisbane but it is time to move on."