Bull Sharks’ bonds are real in finals push
By Pat McLeod
Bond University Rugby’s catch-cry of an ‘unbreakable bond’ has been a real focus this week as the Bull Sharks prepare four teams for sudden death finals this weekend.
Bond will campaign Second Grade, Premier Women, Colts 1 and Colts 2 in the opening round of the Covid-shortened finals series, however the club’s remaining teams, First Grade and Third Grade, have been heavily involved on the training paddock this week.
Head Coach Grant Anderson said having all teams still involved was ‘massively important’.
“Having those players involved who are not in the finals has a real benefit to the preparation because you get the opportunity to run your opposition attack shapes, which is a big plus in the preparation,” he said.
“It also shows where the club is – having these players from First Grade and Third grade who want to be there to help their mates across all grades.”
Taking some ‘post-season’ hits for the club this week has been veteran First Grade forward Dylan Rowe.
Although disappointed not to be still in the finals chase, Rowe said there was no question where he needed to be.
“It is hugely important for me to stay involved with the other teams in the finals series,” the straight-shooter said.
“Every year I have played club footy it has never been about playing First Grade or Second Grade or whatever, I play for Bond.
“So, if you are playing for the club you stay involved, no matter if your team has won the Wooden Spoon or is in the grand final. You have to be there.
“As a regular in first grade we depend on those fellows below us to get us ready all year. It is only right to return the favour.”
Rowe wasn’t holding back when involved in opposed sessions with Second Grade this week. And he brought something extra to those sessions.
The now-30-year-old played seven seasons and about 100 games for Brisbane Souths, who are Bond Second Grade’s opponents on Sunday.
The team sheets may have changed since he last ran on for Souths in 2017, however he was more than happy to prepare his Bond clubmates for the ‘type’ of player they will face on Sunday.
“The type of player that Souths produces is full of heart, strong and who likes to bang into things and take on a really physical game. They like to run hard and tackle hard.
“So hopefully I can try to prepare them for that … maybe give them a few harder knocks at training than what they are used to just to get the body calibrated.”
A few aches and pains this week will help Rowe exorcise some of the lingering frustrations from a First Grade season that, although cruelled by a massive injury toll, ultimately fell short of expectation.
The club’s premier side finished in fifth place and was still within striking distance of fourth when Covid dropped the curtain on the home and away season.
“I am not one to sugarcoat things, but I guess the polite way to put it is that we did not meet our own expectations,” said Rowe.
“We can say that Covid threw a spanner in the works if we want, but realistically we should never have put ourselves in that position. We lost some games that we should have won.
“When I look back, there are two things that I will remember the most about this season. There were chances that went begging for sure. But on the positive side, despite using almost 50 players in First Grade because of injury, we actually banded together quite well and overcame a lot of those obstacles.
“With all respect to the other clubs, I think if any of them had used 50 players they would have been close to the wooden spoon. I think our club showed real character to push as far as we did despite a ridiculous injury toll.”
Although just recently ticking over into the 30 age bracket, and with a baby on the way, Rowe says he has no thoughts of retiring and is looking forward to being part of Bond’s future and building the club’s culture, which he says is unrecognizable to how it was when he first joined in 2019.
“I don’t think that the Bond Rugby Club’s culture is a finished product yet,” he said.
“I think our culture is one of being unbelievably inclusive and ever-shifting to make everyone as comfortable as possible.
“Just like any other ‘workplace’, you are going to get all sorts of people roll through and you have to acclimatise to those different people. We do that really well at Bond. I think this is one of the few rugby clubs where, as a 30-year-old, I go for a coffee or beer with mates who are 19 years old.
“You just don’t see that at many other clubs. It is a very unique culture. It is not necessarily defined just yet, because we are still working it out. But I like where it is going.”