Jack Littlejohn is coming off what he describes as one of the best years of his life.
Living in England after linking with the Salford Red Devils, Littlejohn basically had the chance to travel the world while playing footy and then to top off 2018 he and partner Alannah got married in October.
Now, the former Manly and Wests Tigers halfback has landed in Mudgee to captain-coach the Dragons and he wants the good times to roll.
“I want to win," Littlejohn declared. "I’ve got no other goal than to win comps … and I want the whole club to get on board.
LISTEN: Hear from Mudgee Dragons pair Jack Littlejohn and Corin Smith ahead of the 2019 Group 10 season:
"How good would it be to see three or four Mudgee teams on grand final day?"
Make no mistake about it, the 27-year-old Wagga Brothers junior has returned to bush footy with the view of lifting the Dragons back to their Group 10 glory years.
Think the turn of the century when Mudgee played in five straight premier league grand finals, winning in 2000, 2002 and 2004.
But the new coach is also aware there's going to be plenty of players determined to knock off both him and the star-studded Dragons in 2019.
“There’s going to be sledging and there’s going to be blokes coming after me. Bring it on," he added.
“There's only 16 games, so we can’t be too slow off the blocks. Need to win games from the get-go."
Littlejohn says he and his new wife missed family in Australia and returned home despite having another year on his deal with Salford.
There was little interest from NRL clubs, but with his managers - Chris and Gavin Orr - both hailing from Mudgee and the Dragons keen to lure a big-name coach for 2019 the time was right to land in the country.
If we can keep starting pack on the field go along way to winning it. We’ll be pretty hard to stop.Mudgee captain-coach Jack Littlejohn.
“I’m a country boy so I didn’t mind moving back to the country, they got me a good job in the mines and here I am," Littlejohn said.
He said being a fringe first grader is tougher than most people think.
"A lot of people see glitz and glamour of it all but … one week you’re in playing NRL and on top of the world and then you’re dropped for no reason and back playing reserve grade. It gets tough like that," he said.
Still, Littlejohn's exposure to the top flight will prove invaluable as he endeavours to succeed in his first coaching gig.
He says the likes of Ivan Cleary and Jason Taylor were tremendous mentors for him during his time at the Tigers and he'll draw on both when he dons Dragons colours this season.
Mudgee has already hit the field this pre-season too, trialing at the West Wyalong knockout.
The Dragons lost both games, the first against Young and the second against Wagga Brothers and Littlejohn is confident once Mudgee's fitness improves and the combinations begin to develop
“If we can keep starting pack on the field go along way to winning it. We’ll be pretty hard to stop," he said.