THE 2013 Group 7 Rugby League season may still be several months off but that didn’t stop the Batemans Bay Tigers from announcing their first big signing of the off-season last week.
Front-row forward Sam Cunningham will join the Tigers next year as the club continues its rebuilding process under coach Deryck Fox.
Cunningham has joined the Bay from Championship One (English third tier) club Oldham Roughyeds, initially on a one-year deal.
The 22-year-old told the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner this week that it was a “dream” move.
“I received an email off Deryck asking me to join the Tigers back in October just after my season had finished with Oldham,” he said.
“The main appeal was obviously the footy side to it. Playing in Australia, I think, is any British player’s dream and hopefully this experience will improve me as a player.”
Not only was it a dream move for the former Wigan Warriors, Widnes Vikings and Whitehaven player, but he also said it was a no-brainer even if the logistics were a bit complicated.
“It was an easy decision in my head, but it was a hard decision to actually get the ball rolling,” he said.
“It’s a big commitment but I’m not regretting it one bit.
“I haven’t been to Australia before, but it’s always been on my bucket list.
“I’m most looking forward to the footy, the sun, the Australian culture and also a little sightseeing along the way.”
Since signing on the dotted line last week, Cunningham has done lots of reading in an attempt to learn as much as possible about his soon-to-be home.
“I have done a lot of research about the Tigers and Batemans Bay, and it looks beautiful,” he said.
“Deryck has told me all about the club and the area, and it sounds right up my street.”
However, Fox’s influence in Cunningham’s decision to sign was far greater than simply describing the Bay’s coastal scenery.
“Deryck was a big influence really, especially with a playing history like his,” Cunningham said.
“I know the coaching will be flawless.”
When asked what he hoped to bring to the Tigers next season, Cunningham replied: “An element of professionalism, a good solid defence and hopefully get some points on the board in the process.”
The Bay’s newest recruit said he expected to arrive in Batemans Bay on January 16 and that he “can’t wait for training to start and meet my new team”.
Meanwhile, the club has also picked up former Bay junior Dylan Payne for next season, and has re-signed star hooker Adam Stone.