Henry Perenara hopes his maiden start for St George-Illawarra will be the springboard to a prolonged stay in first grade at the National Rugby League (NRL) club.
The one-test Kiwis second rower left the Melbourne Storm at the end of last season and has found it tough to crack the Dragons' top line-up.
He played off the bench in rounds two and three but was then consigned to the reserve grade until he returned to the interchange for the clash against the North Queensland Cowboys earlier this month.
"I had a slow start and there is a fair bit of competition," said Perenara, who turned 23 on Monday.
Perenara, who made his Kiwis debut against France in 2001, was elevated to the starting line-up for the round 15 encounter with South Sydney, relegating Brent Kite to the bench.
"Brownie's (coach Nathan Brown) has given me a chance and told me just to keep doing what I've been doing."
Perenara had no regrets about leaving Melbourne although he admitted it had been frustrating on the outskirts of the top line-up.
"The coaching staff are great and they've taught me a lot. It's been a great move but it helps when you're playing first grade. Hopefully I can stay there."
Perenara will have some Kiwi company at Wollongong's WIN Stadium with veteran prop and former New Zealand captain Quentin Pongia also starting.
"It's good to have another New Zealander here and he brings a lot of experience to the side. He's the only guy from a winning culture, he's the only one who's something (a premiership with the Canberra Raiders)."
Perenara left plenty of Kiwi company behind in Melbourne including captain Stephen Kearney, Junior Langi and Matt Rua.
Rua left at the same time but failed to settle in Canberra, leaving the capital before the season started.
"He'd had enough of footy and didn't really like it there," said Perenara.
Rua is now involved in coaching development in the Cook Islands.