Queensland Reds coach Nick Stiles says Scott Higginbotham's NRC stint with 2015 winners Brisbane City sparked his return to Ballymore.
Higginbotham had signed with Jpaanese club NEC Green Rockets for the 2015-16 season but played in the NRC before joining his new club, playing under Stiles.
When it came to bringing back to Queensland in 2017, that relationship came to the fore.
"I've been a big fan of 'Higgers' for a while, actually tried to recruit him out of school," Stiles said.
"It was good to get him in Brisbane City last year.
"He got to see how I operate as a coach and the environment that we've created there and he really enjoyed it and Queensland is home to him.
"He's still very passionate about being in the reds, he wants to come back and he wants to play for the Wallabies, so he's extremely motivated."
A major cog of Queensland’s 2011 Super Rugby championship is coming back to Ballymore, with Scott Higginbotham signing a three-year deal with the Reds.
His first season in Japan was cut short by a leg injury, and speculation that he was interested in a return to his original Super Rugby club began earlier this year.
Higginbotham has 32 Wallabies Tests, since debuting in 2010, on top of 64 Reds matches, 109 overall in Super Rugby.
The 30-year-old comes into a back row group that also includes 111-Test player George Smith, returned Red Leroy Houston, Japanese international Hendrik Tui and ex-Broncos U20s player star Caleb Timu.
His addition brings another dose of valuable experience to Ballymore, along with Smith and Wallabies captain Stephen Moore, incumbent captain James Slipper and experienced Wallabies Kane Douglas and Rob Simmons.
Their new faces are part of a Test quality forward pack, with Wallabies captain Stephen Moore locked into a Queensland comeback since before the 2016 season.
U20s second rower Izack Rodda is one of four players upgraded from their extended performance squad in 2016, along with Moses Sorovi
Queensland has re-signed Samu Kerevi, Tui, winger Chris Feauai-Sautia and Duncan Paia’aua this season, while Douglas, Simmons, Slipper and Nick Frisby remain under contract.
Star playmaker Quade Cooper had already announced his impending return to the Reds fold for 2017, after a season in France.
Brisbane Broncos winger Lachlan Maranta has also been added to the list for 2017, with Queensland the first club to confirm their squad for next season.
Reds coach Nick Stiles said he felt the mix was right for the team going forward.
“We’re extremely happy with the balance of the 2017 squad. We have managed to retain the best young talent in Queensland, while also recruiting some of the most experienced players in Australian Rugby.
“And we’ve contained a further nine of the best young players from the Queensland pathway, who will play a significant role in the succession planning and future success of the team for years to come.
“It’s an exciting squad with experienced, hardened forwards and skillful backs as well as strong ball runners, which allows us to play some exciting Rugby.
“The players and staff are already looking forward to the 2017 season and if you’re a fan of the Reds, you should be pretty excited as well.”
The Reds open their 2017 Super Rugby season against the Sharks at Suncorp Stadium.
2017 Queensland Reds squad
Quade Cooper, Reece Hewat, Scott Higginbotham, Leroy Houston, Lachlan Maranta, Alex Mafi, Stephen Moore, Jayden Ngamanu, Izaia Perese, Izack Rodda, George Smith, Moses Sorovi, Caleb Timu, Markus Vanzati,
Curtis Browning, Ben Daley, Anthony Fainga’a, Saia Fainga’a, Lolo Fakaosilea, Scott Gale, Liam Gill, Ayumu Goromaru, Sam Greene,Greg Holmes, Junior Laloifi, Ben Matwijow, Jake Schatz, JJ Taulagi
Quade Cooper, Kane Douglas, Sef Fa’agase Chris Feauai-Sautia, Nick Frisby, Michael Gunn, Reece Hewat, Scott Higginbotham, Leroy Houston, Karmichael Hunt, Samu Kerevi, Adam Korczyk, Chris Kuridrani, Alex Mafi, Campbell Magnay, Lachlan Maranta, Jake McIntyre, Stephen Moore, Eto Nabuli, Cadeyrn Neville, Jayden Ngamanau, Duncan Paia’aua, Pettowa Paraka, Izaia Perese, Andrew Ready, Izack Rodda, Rob Simons, James Slipper, George Smith, Moses Sorovi, Henry Taefu, Sam Talakai, Caleb Timu, Hendrik Tui, Lukhan Tui, Taniela Tupou, James Tuttle, Markus Vanzanti