Norths Devils welcome two experienced signings to their squad for the 2020 season, with Bryce Donovan and Tony Tumusa both making the move from the Redcliffe Dolphins.
Donovan has come to the 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.”
For Tumusa, it is family that has guided his rugby league journey, taking him from Auckland to Melbourne to France and now to the Devils.
This latest step in the journey comes with a heavy heart. Tumusa is back in Australia to be closer to father Iele Tolupeni, who is struggling with a heart condition.
Tumusa, 24, said his father’s courage in the face of the terminal condition was sustaining him as he prepared for a return to the Intrust Super Cup.
“He’s living in Melbourne and I try to get there as often as I can. That’s what keeps me going,” Tumusa said.
“If he can fight through what’s he’s fighting at the moment, then I can fight through anything.”
Tumusa has six sisters and two brothers, most of whom live in Melbourne with his father and mother Ma’auga, who have been together for 26 years.
They came from Auckland to Melbourne after Tumusa had completed school at renowned rugby union nursery Kelston Boys’ High School.
Tumusa was chosen on the wing in the First XV team in Year 11, catapulting him along the path to senior football.
But his hometown New Zealand Warriors didn’t offer Tumusa a contract for their Under 20 program, enabling him to head to Melbourne when his family moved for lifestyle reasons.
There, he would resume a rugby league career that he began aged nine with the Point Chevalier Pirates.
He joined an Altona Roosters Under 18 backline with Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad at five-eighth and two-season Devils prop Jamayne Taunoa Brown at halfback.
Tumusa progressed to the Melbourne Storm Under 20 program before heading north for stints with the Central Queensland Capras and Redcliffe in the Intrust Super Cup.
Tumusa’s young family includes fiancée and former Australian women’s boxing champion Dawn Berryman, their daughter Baleigh, two, and son Klaus, one.
Tumusa and Berryman met while he was in the Storm program and she was winning bouts, so sport has been a common bond between them.
Tumusa’s aim remains to secure an NRL contract and he hopes that his performances as an outside back at the Devils can take him there.
“My goal is to focus on what I can control. I still want to play NRL but I’m firstly looking to play as well as I can this season for Norths,” Tumusa said.
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 20 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.”
Norths Devils gains and losses
Bryce Donovan (Redcliffe Dolphins), Tony Tumusa (Redcliffe Dolphins), Rashaun Denny (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), Carne Doyle-Manga (England – Newcastle Thunder), Jacob Gagan (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Brandon Manase (Doveton Steelers), Kade Pearce (Ellenbrook Rabbitohs), Joey Peato (Picton Magpies), Keanu Dawson (New Zealand Warriors)
Samuel Collins (Easts Tigers), Luke Pollock (Ipswich Jets), Patrick Akauola (Proserpine Brahmans), Jake Strasser (released), Hemi Mullen (released), Bradley Frith (Beenleigh Pride), Henry Penn (Kurri Kurri Bulldogs), Keegan Tuhuga (Pine Rivers Bears), Jamayne Taunoa -Brown (New Zealand Warriors), Riley Leota (released), Steven Buckley (released), Beau Cordtz (released), Fruean Easthope (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Zach Friend (released), Regan Glenn (released), Perry Ioane (released), Obed Karwhin (released), Chris Sio (released)
2020 gains and losses