Fresh faces with star-studded power may look to turn the Gungahlin Bulls first grade side from zero to hero in 2016.

Former NRL player Drury Low settling in at training // Photo by Jaylee Ismay

Last season, the Bulls ran fifth, missing out on the finals after winning six at the beginning of the year. An immense injury toll, with more than five key players out within the season, unfortunately left the team with a lack of depth moving forward.

With a 2016 team line up featuring former NRL player and Cook Island International Drury Low along with former Canberra Raiders stars, Jason Croker as an assistant coach, Lincoln Withers and David Howell as head coaches, it isn’t a surprise that both coaches agree with Howell’s words that, “there is a good feeling about the club at the moment.”

Along with the coaching staff, captain Jack Elliot also believes that with new people coming in and old ones leaving that it could be a “fresh start” for the club.

One significant change to the squad this year is the amount of new players joining the club. Coach Withers is excited about these “new faces at the club” and one of these new players is Drury Low.  Low has five seasons in the NRL under his belt and will definitely be, “one of the main players here and will bring a lot of experience,” assistant coach Croker said.

Drury, who has just moved back to Canberra from Sydney, explains he was keen to come back where he originally started with the Raiders, adding he, “can’t wait to play in this comp”.

Low also can’t wait to shake off the nickname of Ben Barba’s replacement permanently as many reporters called him while playing at the Canterbury Bulldogs. “It was just part of what comes with it because of who he [Ben Barba] was back then,” he explains.

Within the squad Low is still a player that hasn’t confirmed his position within the team with Croker unsure where Howell and Withers will play him, but hinting at possibly in the hooker position rather than at fullback. With his speed out the back and his NRL experience Low is unquestionably a great signing for the club in 2016.

The Bulls focusing on fitness drills // Photo by Jaylee Ismay

Training is another target area the coaches want to improve on this year with front rower Jack Elliot, the current captain of the team, giving insight to what the coaches are focusing on at training.

“We have been doing a lot of defence lately, a lot of full-on contact sessions as they want to work on that more than last year along with our fitness,” he said.

Another great signing for the club is former Woden Valley Rams second rower, Bradley Martin, who has only been with the club for three weeks. Martin, who is an experienced player with several years playing in the Raiders competition to his name, unfortunately sat out in a preseason match due to a slight injury. However, he is eager to start the season off strong under the impressive line-up of the coaching staff.

“I’ve enjoyed my time here, it’s a new fresh start,” he said.

One of these key preseason matches was against a strong under 20’s Manly Sea Eagles team in late February where the Bulls put up a gallant effort, falling short 30-12.

Assistant coach Croker highlighted that, “from all reports it was a pretty good effort, they just fell away at the end”.

Another new signing, Dale Cooper-Shields, has just been announced as the Bull’s new hooker. Cooper-Shields hasn’t played a game in three years, but feels like now is the perfect time to come back to the game he loves due to all the new faces and the new mentality of the team in 2016. He has previously coached the under 18’s squad at the club.

The squad running through some new combinations for the first game // Photo by Jaylee Ismay

With the hooker and the halves combination between Martin and two year veteran half-back Jack Scholes, it is easy to see why both coaches conclude that they will definitely be the strength the team needs this year when moving forward in attack with Scholes quoting that “communication is easy with Dale and works out quite easily”.

Combined with new players and a new field, matched with their consistent training regime and various pre season matches, there is hope of a top four spot this year among the playing squad. The Gungahlin Bulls first game of the year is April 9, against Queanbeyan United who won the competition last year. it will be a fantastic test of strength for this “fresh faced” team.

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Jaylee Ismay

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