Canterbury rookie Jayden Okunbor says he is relieved to have secured his future at the Bulldogs for a further two seasons after fearing over the summer he would be told to look elsewhere.
Okunbor penned a two-year contract extension on Monday after a bright start to his NRL career, knocking back any potential offers rival clubs had planned for the Milperra junior beyond the 2019 season.
It's understood Okunbor had interest from cross-town rivals Wests Tigers, while former Bulldogs and now Manly coach Des Hasler was also a fan of luring the 22-year-old to the northern beaches.
Rather than test himself on the open market, the back-rower turned winger was blown away by Canterbury's method of making a straight-up show of interest to retain him after uncertainty earlier in the year.
"It was good to get it out of the way, it was something I've always wanted to make it happen this week is cool," Okunbor said of his extension on Wednesday.
"The club came to us, came up with a deal and it was done quick. It's everything I wanted, I've worked hard in the pre-season. There were times I didn't know what was going to happen, a stage there I wasn't sure of my future so putting pen to paper meant a lot to me.
"I think my performances have given the club [reason to put] a bit of faith in me. I hope I can repay the fans this week."
Tolman thrilled to have Okunbor stay at the Bulldogs
It caps a remarkable 12 months for the local product, who grew up with older brother Jackson and was raised by his father Victor, of Nigerian heritage, and mother Donna in the Belmore area.
He transitioned as an edge forward to the backline last year as the Bulldogs lifted the Intrust Super Premiership title, and in the opening five games of his NRL career he's already experienced the highs and lows of the top grade.
"I've only played there a year now and am finding my feet well," he said of the wing spot.
"It's a lot harder and my body is still getting used to it. Playing NSW Cup you recover quicker whereas [in the NRL] come Wednesday you're still feeling it come the weekend."
While Okunbor's long-term goal is to become the Bulldogs' greatest ever African athlete, he's looking up to the likes of Blake Ferguson as a benchmark winger in the game.
"They're all good, I try and model myself off a few of them," he said.
"Blake Ferguson is killing it and is one of the best in the game. If I can be anything like that I would be pretty happy."