Perth return key to Rona exit
Bulldogs centre Curtis Rona says he still isn't used to the fact that he won't be at the club next season.
The 24-year-old signed a two-year deal to link up with Super Rugby franchise the Western Force starting in 2017.
The Junior Kiwis representative has been a revelation at Belmore since moving south from the Cowboys, scoring 34 tries from 46 appearances in the blue and white jersey.
His freakishly long arms have seen him do some remarkable things on the field, with the winger's ability to ground the ball from seemingly impossible angles second to none.
Rona hasn't ruled out making a return to rugby league later in his career, but for now he feels this is the best decision for him and his family.
"This was playing on [my mind] for a few months. We'd make a few calls, change our decision, make a few calls, change our decision and then I just had to take the time out and make that call, and that was to go back to Perth," he said.
"It was very emotional announcing to the team and the club that I'd depart at the end of the season.
"It still feels like a shock to me. I've gotten used to being around the club and everyone is so welcoming here so it's going to be sad for me [to leave].
"It'll hit me as soon as the season is finished.
"It'll be a very sad and emotional time for myself because the club has been so good to me, the fans have been overwhelming with the support they've given me the last few years. They've been like a family to me."
Rona is no stranger to the 15-man code and was even a member of the Western Force Academy as a teenager where he shifted between fullback and the centres.
And while the lure of playing for the Wallabies was strong, Rona revealed the main driving force behind his move back to Perth was family.
Rona and his wife both have family living in Perth and decided the best thing for their baby daughter Sapphire was to return home where she could be surrounded by loved ones.
"I'm all about family, and being in Perth will be the best for me and my family," Rona said.
"It's one of the main reasons why I made that call.
"My wife's family is over there. She's really close to them. And I've still got a few family members over there as well so it's going to make it a lot easier for us to go back there and have that support around us.
"I've just got to take the best step for my family and at this moment in time that's being back in Perth."