Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has denied there is bad blood between him and former NRL club Penrith, as he prepares to pull on Canterbury colours for the first time on Sunday.
Speaking for the first time since his mid-season exit from the Panthers, the New Zealand Test skipper denied he had fallen out with his former coach Ivan Cleary.
Watene-Zelezniak made a sudden departure from Sydney's west less than four months after being named in the Panthers' leadership group.
Asked about his decision to sign with the last-placed Bulldogs, he said he was simply doing what he thought was right for his family and career.
After requesting a release, Watene-Zelezniak received interest from Parramatta, Wests Tigers and North Queensland but a conversation with former Panthers general manager Phil Gould helped convince him to sign with the Bulldogs.
He denied being on the outer with Cleary, the man who handed him his NRL debut in 2014.
"Not for me it's not broken," Watene-Zelezniak said of their relationship.
"He gave me my start and I'll be forever grateful for that and he'll have my respect.
"He's got a family too. I think people don't realise what goes on with people playing football, it affects our family too."
Cleary last month admitted the sex video scandals had taken a toll on the Panthers' playing group but Watene-Zelezniak played down the suggestion it was a factor in his exit.
"Personally it didn't affect me at all," Watene-Zelezniak said.
"I'm a big believer that people make decisions and they get the consequences.
"People make mistakes, I make mistakes, everyone has made mistakes in their life and I've always been brought up not to judge. Look in your own backyard before you judge someone else.
"I was there to support the boys and still am."
The 23-year-old will debut for the Bulldogs against the Sydney Roosters at the SCG in the No.3 jersey.
Despite being the incumbent Kiwi Test fullback, coach Dean Pay has elected to stick with youngster Nick Meaney in the No.1.
Watene-Zelenziak said he was intent on putting pressure on the rookie custodian for the spot but said he was happy to play wherever Pay saw fit.
"I think it's come out that I want to play fullback or I'm not playing at all," Watene-Zelezniak said.
"But that's not the case. I was asked what position I'd prefer. And I'm honest and I said I prefer fullback.
"I reassured Dean I'd play wherever he wants me to play."
Australian Associated Press