Bucking the trend
The London Broncos are back! Luke Dorn says hopes are high in the capital ahead of the 2012 campaign.
Last Updated: 03/02/12 3:41pm
Not even the current freezing cold conditions in the capital can cool my expectation levels ahead of the new season.
In truth, it has actually been very, very mild for much of the winter. None of our training sessions have been disrupted and there's been no issues with games being called off due to frozen pitches, so up until the last week it's been great.
Although I managed a month in South Africa and a further month back home in Australia, we seem to have come around to the start of the new campaign extremely quickly. It seemed an eternity at one stage until the first game, and yet now we are here already.
This is always the time of optimism for every club - everyone fancies their chances and we at London Broncos are no different in that matter.
It certainly feels like a fresh start now we are the Broncos again. Our time as Harlequins was great, we had a great relationship with the rugby union club during that period. But now, back as the London Broncos, it feels like we've got our rugby league identity again. We've a new brand, a new squad and a new lease of life, giving everyone a renewed feeling of belief.
It also helps when you have signed some big names. David Hughes, our chairman, has really gone in for some heavy recruitment to the squad.
No name is bigger than Craig Gower - he has been there, done that, playing for not one but two countries in his rugby career. He is probably one of the better halves to have played the game in the last 10-to-15 years.
He's fallen back into league very well (it's always been his number one game, so it's never been too far from his mind) and what I've enjoyed the most in the early stages of his career in London is his leadership; he's never afraid to voice his opinion.
To go alongside him we've got two Grand Final winners from Manly in Shane Rodney and Michael Robertson, so they know how to be successful, while Antonio Kaufusi - another of our new faces - has also played in NRL Grand Finals. We've bought in guys who know what it takes, and that's something we definitely need to tap into now.
For me, I simply can't wait to get going. We will have to take it steady, but the attack-minded players we've bought in will suit my game and it's an exciting time at the club.
Now it's up to us, the players, to have a go. There is a bit of pressure because of who we have bought in.
We haven't really performed in the last few seasons, results show you that. Nobody from the club was happy with that, so hopefully this time around things can be rectified.
With such a huge turnover of players we understand it is going to take a bit of time though. What we need to do is show we are competitive from the outset, allowing us to build into the campaign and come on strong when it matters.
It won't be easy, however. Plenty of teams have strengthened, with the quality of player being signed extremely high. So many guys are coming over in the peak of their careers, these are guys that NRL clubs simply don't want to lose.
For me, however, the buy of the year could be an Englishman. Leon Pryce fits the style of Catalans Dragons perfectly and he should blossom. Indeed, Super League's French franchise are the team to watch for me. With Louis Anderson coming in as well, they are the ones who the big boys will be looking over their shoulder at.
As well as fresh faces we also have two new stadiums. While some of the old grounds are fantastic for their heritage, you can't beat playing at a brand new facility. You ask most of the players where they like playing the best and they'll tell you the more modern, state-of-the-art stadiums, the ones where you don't have to take turns to get changed in a shoe-box of a dressing room!
It's a great time of the year because no one knows quite what to expect.