New signing Bryce Donovan has come to Norths Devils with a simple goal – he wants to win a game at Nundah.
He’s had two previous attempts – both in a Redcliffe jersey when the Devils rushed together a series of tries to topple their northern neighbours.
Those wins gave Donovan a taste of the style of football that helped to lure him to the Devils.
“There is a lot more shifting of the ball here,” Donovan said.
“Players are allowed to back what they see. It doesn’t matter what tackle it is. We have a licence to have a crack if we see something and that makes it fun to play.”
Donovan, 24, featured in the halves in the Dolphins’ grand final victory in 2018 and he took over captaincy of the team last year when Cameron Cullen was injured in the pre-season.
But he admits he struggled for consistency in 2019 as the Dolphins had to mount a late rush to qualify for the finals after an indifferent start to the year.
“Last year didn’t go as planned for me but it was a good learning experience,” Donovan said.
“I’m much better for that experience and this is the best I’ve ever felt in a pre-season.
“I’m really happy being here at Norths. My first goal is to make the team. That’s the first step. Then I’d like to play every game possible. I want to play good footy and be consistent.
“And, I wouldn’t mind winning a game here. It’s not been a good ground for me.”
Donovan has arrived at the Devils hoping to revive the NRL ambitions that have been with him for more than a decade.
He’s aware of the Devils’ record for producing NRL players, noting the many stars whose names appear in Norths’ list of capped players.
Donovan first played football as a five-year-old for the Waratah Mayfield Cheetahs before moving to Wests Newcastle.
He was inspired by his father Darren, who was a highly regarded local player before injury affected his career.
Donovan was signed into the Newcastle Knights system as a 14-year-old, playing Under 20s and NSW Cup for the Knights before moving to Redcliffe.
His family, including younger brother Chayce, still live in Newcastle. Donovan and his wife Jessica visited them for Christmas.
“I definitely still have NRL ambitions and I’ve come to a club that has had some fair players over the years,” Donovan said.
“I know that I have to work hard to do that.”
Donovan has some familiar faces around him at Norths.
He has played previously with Carne Doyle-Manga and Tony Tomusa while featuring in a representative team with hooker Calum Gahan.
“There’s a good feel around the club. I’m really looking forward to the season,” Donovan said.