IN an attempt to play regular first grade footy, Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs product Jack Murchie has decided the next phase of his rugby league journey is with the New Zealand Warriors.
Murchie, who's been in the nation's capital for five seasons, announced on Thursday he had signed a train-and-trial deal with the Auckland-based franchise until the end of the year.
"The whole process started earlier in the week and happened very quickly," said Murchie, who admits there's been a mutual interest between the two parties previously.
"I got a phone call down in Canberra, explaining there was an opportunity at the Warriors.
"I then talked it through with my manager and family, along with Peter O'Sullivan (Warriors recruitment manager).
"I also chatted with a couple of Raiders guys, such as Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Siliva Havili and Andrew McFadden, who had been involved with the Warriors club before, and they all spoke very highly of the club.
"After about a day's deliberating, I decided the move would be really beneficial for my career moving forward - it was a really big decision to leave after being there for close to five years, shown by me tearing up when I told the boys at training.
"I'm really excited to join a club which such a proud history and passionate supporter base."
During his time with the Green Machine, Murchie was named in the 2017 National Youth Competition Team of the Year, before representing the NSW under 20s, Junior Kangaroos and Australian under 23s sides - which led to him making his first grade debut with Ricky Stuart's troops on July 20 against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks.
Batemans Bay-born Murchie played at the NRL Nines this year and had hopes of making a major impact for the Raiders.
But the Warriors have been hit by injuries, reduced to 26 players this week, and Murchie could see a pathway to his NRL goal.
"The idea behind the move was to give me a better chance of playing regular first grade and I can see a big opportunity for me to do that here," Murchie, who prides himself on his running game and energetic defence, said.
"It's now up to me to continue to work hard and put my best foot forward - hopefully I'm lucky enough to pull on that jersey.
"I'm not going to look too far down the line and worry about what might happen next year, as the world is a rapidly changing place right now.
"I'm just going to concentrate on playing some strong footy for the Warriors this season and doing my best to help them win on the field.
"Obviously with added opportunity comes extra responsibility but as they say 'pressure makes diamonds', so I'm looking forward to the challenge.
"Then once the season's done, I'm sure all that other stuff, like a new contract and finding a house over in New Zealand, will take care of itself."
While Murchie joined his Warriors teammates at Gosford's Central Coast Stadium to prepare for their round three clash with St George Illawarra on Saturday, May 30, his mum was in Canberra clearing out his belongings.
"Mum has been extremely helpful during these past few hectic days - I can't thank her enough," Murchie, who helped Gerringong win a Group Seven premiership in 2016, said.
"Despite how hectic it's been, I've really enjoyed my first few days with the squad, meeting all the boys and learning all the plays.
"The first couple of sessions went really well and I can't wait to get back out there with the team.
"Obviously it's a unique situation, as usually you have a full pre-season with a club once you join them but everyone has made the transition a lot easier by being so welcoming.
"Since arriving, I've really tried to pick the brains of some of the older players as to what they want from me and what role I could have in the team, as well as chatting about structures with the coaches - to ensure if I do get a chance to play, I'm doing the best I can to benefit the team."
New mentor Stephen Kearney, who admitted his club tried to sign the promising forward earlier in the year, has been impressed with Murchie since he arrived into camp with the Warriors at Terrigal.
"Jack's a young, back-row/middle forward who's been in the Canberra system for a couple of years now and is desperate to play first grade," Kearney, who conceded the club is still on the lookout for more reinforcements in the forwards, said.
"Obviously there's an opportunity for him to do that here [at the Warriors], given the injury predicament we find ourselves in.
"Certainly the last two days, since he's arrived in camp with us, he's been very energetic to his approach to the game and he's impressed a lot of people - he's given the whole group a boost.
"If he continues to present himself well and put his best foot forward, which I'm confident he will do, an opportunity to play first grade could present itself."