Fresh from a history-making finals appearance in 2020, Bond University will be looking to establish themselves as competition heavyweights this season.
With a band of supporters travelling up the M1, the Bullsharks defeated GPS in last year’s minor semi-final, before going down to eventual premiers Easts in the preliminary final.
Their first top-four finish will provide the side with a shot of confidence this season, as they aim to break the premiership drought on the Gold Coast.
The club has recruited well, with gun centre Tautalatasi Tasi returning to Queensland from the Shute Shield, after stalwart Ryan Menzies departed south.
Flyhalf Mitch Third has also moved on, as has livewire winger Rhian Stowers and standout forward Jack Winchester.
The Bullsharks will again boast plenty of attacking weapons, with the likes of skipper Dan Boardman, scrumhalf Liam Dillon and electric fullback Joey Fittock providing spark across the backline.
Head coach Grant Anderson is excited for the season ahead on the Gold Coast.
Tearing the finals monkey off of the Bullsharks’ back not only made history for the club but has set the standard on and off the field at the Canal.
“I think we were really happy with the result, the boys worked hard and the club has been building for a long time,” Anderson said.
“It established that we’re here for more than just to make up numbers and we made history, no other team will be the first Bond team to make finals.
“We worked really hard to get our culture right at the club and players led that and it culminated in the support for all the three teams making finals – Colts 1, Women and Premier Grade, supporters getting up to Ballymore.
“Culture doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and we made some big steps last year.
Whole club success is the focus for the Gold Coasters, as they bid to form a known and travelled Gold Coast Rugby pathway.
With their potent attack well-known, improving the team’s performance on the other side of the ball has also been a focus for Anderson.
“We’re just looking to improve on certain areas of our game, we have had a skills-based pre-season focus, we want to establish what Bond Rugby looks like,” Anderson said.
“We attack well but a big work on for us in defence, that will win premierships. Our set-piece is another area of focus.
“2020 was the first year we fielded Third Grade, we want to do that again this year and create pathways for players to progress through. We have some good talent coming through Second and Third Grade and we want to perform as best as we can across the board.
“We’ve been training as a club, not just as teams, and the players in Third Grade are benefiting from training alongside Premier Grade.”
Tautalatasi Tasi – Gordon (Shute Shield)
Salesi Manu – return from a sabbatical
Lloyd Johansen – Melbourne (Unicorns)
Jordan Kahu – Broncos (NRL)
Ryan Menzies – Southern Districts (Shute Shield)
Rhian Stowers – Eastwood (Shute Shield)
Jack Winchester – Western Force
Mitch Third – work commitments
Luke Papworth – work commitments
Callum Ball – work commitments
PLAYER TO WATCH – DAN BOARDMAN
This Bullsharks side features plenty of talented players, with Anderson able to list off a number of stars to keep an eye on as the season approaches.
“Dan Boardman will be better this year, he has improved his game knowledge and Devon Henson is set for a big year as well,” the coach said.
“He is different to other locks in the competition, he is big and physical.
“Liam Dillon is the best uncontracted player in the comp and Tasi Tasi, I’m keen to see how he goes. He will be playing a different brand of Rugby.”
OPPOSITION PLAYER TO WATCH – ALEX SMIT (EASTS)
Tigers flanker Alex Smit will have the opportunity to start in 2021, and Anderson is tipping him to shine in a strong Easts outfit.
“He’s a good young flanker,” Anderson said.
“I coached him in U19s, he has a lot to offer, workhorse and tackles everything, he should have a good season.”