“I reckon we’ll go all right,” said new recruit Greg Nicholson, from Yorkshire, England, when asked what he thought of the Eden Tigers’ chances for 2012.
“I’ve seen a bit of the competition and even the top sides with the players they’ve got, I think we’ll be the team to beat this year.”
It’s a bold claim, but not one lightly made by the soft-spoken 26-year-old who is one of three English recruits that make up massive changes to the Tigers’ senior line-up this year that is minus 11 players from last year’s premiership team.
His compatriots, Danny Smalley and Reece Lazenby, also bring top class experience to the team, the three having all played around the same area in Yorkshire.
“Reece has come from a good background because he was schooled with Hull FC, which is a full-time club and the team is a lot like the Toyota Cup side over here,” Nicholson said.
“Danny is one of his friends and has been playing with West Hull which is a top amateur side.”
Nicholson himself played up through schoolboy league and then into semi-professional football with Featherstone and Pontefract near his Leeds hometown.
“Semi-professional standard is just below Super League in England, so we train three or four times a week and do our own weights program,” he said.
There he played as a lock and was content seeing out his career in that league and working as a youth worker dealing with troubled kids and young adults, until he got the phone call earlier this year asking if he wanted to come to Australia to play in Eden.
“I’ve not been before so it were a good opportunity,” he said. “Matt Bell and a few other Eden boys have been over to Featherstone so I had an idea of what to expect.
“Featherstone is quite a small village but you’ve got Leeds and other major centres only 20-25 minutes away, where here there are vast spaces between everything!”
They’re vast spaces he’s keen to explore once the season’s over, hopefully with his handprints on the Group 16 premiership trophy before he goes, and he’s worked his way into the team in different roles.
“I played at five-eighth for the first couple of games and then went to back row and last match went to lock, which I prefer because you have a bit more freedom,” he said.
“With back row you’re kinda stuck to a side, but with lock you can follow the ball a bit more.”
Meanwhile, Smalley comes in as a forward, while Lazenby has been earmarked for a job as centre and with the rest of the team well rested after a two-week break, good things are on the cards.