St George Illawarra captain Ben Hunt has insisted he will be at the Dragons in 2024 in a massive boost to the side's rebuild under incoming boss Shane Flanagan.
When the struggling Dragons axed close confidant Anthony Griffin as coach in May, Hunt agitated for a release from the contract he signed last October that had tied him to the club through 2025.
A mid-season move back to former side Brisbane appeared Hunt's best chance of winning a maiden premiership, with the 33-year-old linked with a possible switch to Gold Coast from 2024.
The Dragons initially denied Hunt's request, before holding crisis talks with their disgruntled half when it became clear he was firm on a release.
Those talks culminated in Hunt agreeing to stay put in late June.
But the situation appeared a chance to flare up again in the off-season as the club ushered in a new era under ex-Cronulla boss Flanagan.
After the Dragons' last game of the year, though, Hunt confirmed he would honour his contract in 2024.
"I'll be here," he said.
"I've had a couple of chats with Flanno and they've been positive conversations.
"We'll get into the pre-season and work things out."
The comments will reassure the Dragons, given Hunt had spoken candidly to the press earlier in the season about the uncertainty he held for his future.
With Jayden Sullivan already off to Wests Tigers from next year, losing Hunt would have left the Dragons' halves set-up in disarray.
But they can now begin planning to recover from a season that ended with fewer wins than any other in their history as a joint venture (five).
"It's pretty disappointing, obviously," Hunt said of the campaign.
"I think we learned in the back end of the season how to compete a lot harder.
"We just haven't had the finesse or the ability to finish off games and take those big moments.
"It's probably a big (focus to) work on going into next pre-season, is how to win those big moments."
Dragons interim coach Ryan Carr, contracted for 2024, expressed his desire to remain on staff under Flanagan.
The pair are set to discuss Flanagan's plans now that he has finished his duties as an assistant to Anthony Seibold at Manly.
"He's got a lot going on himself and we've been working hard on our game for right now. We haven't gone into too much detail yet," Carr said.
"I love this playing group, I've formed a lot of really good relationships with the players and the staff. I'm very fortunate to have a great, hard-working staff here.
"I can see where it can get to and there's pieces there that can get us there, we've just got to make sure that we continue to build those pieces and get it right properly."