Former Kiwi international Bronson Harrison admits he masked the frustration of a tumultuous 2012 season from his Canberra Raiders teammates, relieved to finally end his NRL limbo by signing a two-year deal with the St George Illawarra Dragons on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old denied a falling out with Canberra coach David Furner or club management, claiming he was ''fine with the club and everything that's gone on''.
His future settled after months of speculation he was unwanted by the Raiders, Harrison finally opened up on Wednesday about a miserable 2012, which he described as ''the most difficult time I've been through in my career''.
Having joined the Raiders in 2009 as a former premiership-winning player with the Wests Tigers, captaining Canberra towards the end of 2011, Harrison was restricted to just 10 games last season.
Plagued by injury, particularly bulging discs in his back, Harrison said it had been tough to cope with mounting speculation the Raiders wanted to release him from the final two years of his contract.
''Those rumours can spread like wildfire around the club and if I'd have sat down and had a whinge about it I suppose it could have affected the team and I didn't want that,'' Harrison said, admitting he consciously focused on keeping his morale up in front of teammates.
''I wanted my teammates to be in the best frame of mind and I wanted them to win games and to their credit they did it. It's not good to finish on that note , it's not something I'm pleased about, but I've got to focus my energies on moving forward and that's what I'm trying to do with the Dragons.
''The last two years was a big learning curve, I probably learnt more in the last two years than what I did in my first two in the NRL.
''The adversity you go through and the trying times … if you hang in there long enough, you keep fighting, there's light at the end of the tunnel. I'm still fighting now and that's what I want to do.''
The Raiders will continue to pay part of Harrison's contract with the Dragons, although the settlement should not have a negative effect on Canberra's 2013 salary cap.
Harrison said he had engaged in talks with Newcastle, attracted by working with coach Wayne Bennett, but the best opportunity opened up at the Dragons when St George's Beau Scott transferred to the Knights.
Harrison said he was ''definitely in limbo'' until signing with the Dragons.
But the 13-Test veteran for New Zealand said he had no ill feelings towards the Raiders or coach Furner about moving him on, admitting the form of emerging young players like Josh Papalii and Joel Thompson made his early exit understandable.
Asked if he was disappointed not to be part of Canberra's future, Harrison said: ''I wouldn't waste my energy thinking about that stuff now, my energy will be on the Dragons moving forward. But they've got a great squad and that's probably part of the reason why I was on the way out there.''