Tigers’ rugby league English brigade ready to roar

BAY Tigers first grade coach Deryck Fox’s scouting efforts over the past few months have paid big dividends.

The club now has the services of a talented batch of new players.

However, the squad will have a distinctly English feel this season, as four new signings have joined the club from the other side of the world.

Bay Post/Moruya Examiner sports journalist Dean Benson caught up with three of the Bay Tigers' new English brigade on Monday to see how they’re settling in.

Dean Benson (DB): First of all, welcome to Australia. How are you all settling in?

James Delaney (JD): Yeah, it’s going all right. The training has been going really well and I think we’re all ready for the season. 

Sam Cunningham (SC): It was tough to begin with, with the heat and all that. But now it’s getting easier, and I’m enjoying it, very much so.

Lee Atherton (LA): The training has been good, but it’s been tough. We’re getting into some skill work now, so hopefully that will help us get ready for the season. Our first trial game is in two weeks, so we’re looking forward to that.

DB: Have you spoken to Deryck at all about targets for the season?

JD: I’d definitely like to get a tan (laughs). But no, not really I haven’t spoken to anyone about that. We just want to have a good season all-round and make it to the playoffs.

DB: How have you found the Australian summer so far?

JD: (Points to singlet tan) Well, as you can tell, pretty well. No, it took a while for me (to adjust to the heat) but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.

SC: I’ve just been trying to stay as cool as possible, and get lots of water into me.

LA: It’s really warm! But hopefully I’ll get used to it eventually. It’s probably as I expected, really. 

DB: When you were first approached about coming to Australia and the Bay Tigers, what was your reaction?

JD: I got a phone call off Deryck Fox asking me to come out – I’ve already been out here once – and so I just jumped at the chance. Last time I came over in 2010 I had a decent season so hopefully I can improve this year. I loved it here, but the team this year is completely different. We’ve got a lot of depth in the backs and we’ve never had a big pack like we do now so I’m pretty sure we’ll have a good season.

SC: It was a bit different for me really because I was waiting to hear back from the club that I was already at. But I got in touch with Deryck and then it was basically just up to me to make the decision. In hindsight, I’ve made the right decision to come out here. There was a bit (of hesitation) because it’s a big commitment, you’re not just travelling two hours down the road.

LA: I was made up straight away but you’ve got to leave things at home like friends and family. I’ve made the right choice to come over here, but quitting your job and that sort of stuff, it takes a while to get the ball rolling. But once I’d booked my flights and all that, I couldn’t wait to get over. I’ve definitely made the right decision.

DB: England is obviously synonymous with the round ball version of football. How did you all get involved in rugby league?

JD: To be honest, where I live (Dewsbury, near Leeds) everyone is brought up around rugby league so it was a no-brainer. You either play that or you don’t play any sport, really. All my family had played it so I just followed my family and that’s it.

SC: It’s kind of split 50-50 where we’re from (Wigan). You get a lot of people following football and you get a lot of people following rugby league as well. Teams like Wigan Athletic and Manchester United are obviously big influences, but especially in the schools, rugby league is the predominant sport where I’m from. I used to play soccer when I was younger, but I was not good at it. Then when I was 13, I gave rugby league a go and I’ve come this far.

LA: It was similar for me. You’ve got people who play rugby league and football but when I went to school, all my mates were playing rugby league so I went to training with them and it’s just carried on from there. I’ve been playing ever since. 

DB: James, how are you expecting Group 7 to compare this year to 2010 when you were last over?

JD: To be honest, I don’t think it will be as tough because of the team that we’ve got. We’ve got some really good players who have come into the team and that will make our jobs much easier, so I think it will be good.

DB: Sam and Lee, what are your expectations on the field?

SC: I’m not making any expectations, really. People have talked it up, but we’ll wait to that first game and then you can ask us again (laughs).

LA: You just don’t know what to expect; it’s really hard to predict.

DB: Finally, away from football, how have you found Batemans Bay?

LA: Brilliantly. Everyone just can’t do enough for you, so we’re just having a good time and that’s it. Sam and I are living together and that definitely helps.

SC: It’s almost like you’ve been here your whole life and I feel really settled. The three of us are all looking for work, though, so if we get that sorted it would be brilliant! 

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