Refreshed and dependable hooker Tommy Butterfield has joined the Sunshine Coast Falcons after spending one season at West Brisbane Panthers.
Butterfield asked for a release from Easts Tigers last year after gaining a promotion at work and struggling to balance the rigours of Intrust Super Cup with work and family life.
The 31-year-old said he thoroughly enjoyed playing for the Panthers, under former Falcons coach Craig Ingebrigtsen, and during the year regained his love of footy.
"Last year was a great year... obviously it was disappointing we didn't end up making the grand final, considering we finished minor premiers, but it was a great year," Butterfield said.
"My love of the game really came back. I enjoyed getting to play footy with a lot of mates. Yeah, it was a really enjoyable year."
Butterfield, whose young son Manix plays for Redcliffe Dolphins, said he joined the Falcons in January after a call from new coach Sam Mawhinney saying there was an opportunity to take up the hooker role.
"I'm definitely excited about playing Cup again," Butterfield said.
"I'm really looking forward to getting back into that level again. Definitely missed it a little bit last year. I can't wait."
Butterfield, who is "not the greatest vegan, but doing my best", said pre-season had "been good, but hard" and the Falcons' two trial games had been a good test for the squad.
"Overall, it has been really good. Good to be back and getting involved in the real physical, full-on training," Butterfield said.
"The body is feeling good. A bit sore, but good."
Tommy Butterfield highlights
Now, he is ready to rip in. And for him, he cannot wait to do it against his old club Redcliffe Dolphins in Round 1. And when they play for the James Ackerman Cup in Round 15.
The James Ackerman Cup was founded in 2016 following the tragic death of Falcons front rower, James 'Ackers' Ackerman, who passed away after a match at Bishop Park in 2015. Butterfield was a close friend of Ackers.
"I'm really looking forward to Round 1. Being able to represent James with the JA8 on the jersey is a big thing for me," Butterfield said, adding the last time he played with Ackerman was in the 2012 grand final, when they both played for Redcliffe.
"I'll be doing my best to be in the team somewhere. I'll continue to train hard to be there for that Round 1 clash."
Match: Dolphins v Falcons
Round 1 -
Venue: Dolphin Stadium, Brisbane
Butterfield said he looked forward to playing alongside fellow new signing Luke Capewell.
"I'm really looking forward to that. Last time we got to play together was with James Ackerman - the 2012 year with the Dolphins, which was a really good year," Butterfield said.
"I'm just really looking forward to playing with a new team. Gelling with the new team and learning as much as I can from the coach as well.
"He's a really good coach, Sam Mahwinney. A really good people person. Really knows how to talk about and teach the game when it comes to tactics. I'm just taking it all in."
Butterfield said Manix, who will play Under 7s this year, was really looking forward to the Round 1 clash too.
"He's looking forward to the Redcliffe versus Sunny Coast game because he's still a staunch Redcliffe boy because he plays for them, but he's a Falcons supporter now too," Butterfield said.
Butterfield, a self-proclaimed oldie in the Falcons squad, said he was confident the Falcons could have an equally successful year in 2020.
In 2019, the Falcons were minor premiers, losing only one regular fixture game and drawing one, before being knocked out by eventual premiers Burleigh Bears during week three of finals.
"I think we've got a great squad - good mixture of young and old," Butterfield said.
"Obviously we'll be influenced by what we get back from Melbourne as well, but I think we've got a good back line, good halves led by Todd Murphy," Butterfield said.
"We've got a really, really big forward pack, which is good for me, because that's always been the type of game I've played, getting behind the really big forward pack.
"I'm really looking forward to playing with Dane Hogan and Liam MacDonald who played a grand final at Easts with me as well.
"I think the Falcons are in for another big year."
Butterfield said he was impressed by young front rower Justin Makirere, who was part of the Falcons' winning Hastings Deering Colts team in 2019.
"He's got a really big future and will definitely play quite a few games up in Cup this year, I think," Butterfield said.
Personally, Butterfield said he wanted to play consistent football at Cup level and hopefully get another call up for the PNG Kumuls.
"That would be the icing on the cake," Butterfield said.
"I 100 per cent want to do that again. If the chance came to play for the Kumuls that would be the top, but if we put ourselves in a position to be in a Cup grand final, that would make the year even better."
Butterfield, the BallyCara village general manager at Redcliffe, said work was "busy as always" but more manageable after one year in his role.
"I'm better able to manage work, life and footy together," Butterfield said.
"Bring on 2020."
Sunshine Coast Falcons gains and losses
Sam Lavea (Easts Tigers), Tommy Butterfield (West Brisbane Panthers), Tom Geraghty (Redcliffe Dolphins), Luke Capewell (Ipswich Jets), Campbell Duffy (Townsville Blackhawks), Joel Moon (Leeds, but since retired)
Chris Lewis (Melbourne Storm), Trent Loiero (Melbourne Storm), Lachlan Roe (Air Force), Caleb Daunt (Easts Tigers), Dalton Phillips (Ipswich Jets), Jon Reuben (Redcliffe Dolphins)
2020 gains and losses
- Ipswich Jets
- Townsville Blackhawks
- Redcliffe Dolphins
- PNG Hunters
- Wynnum Manly Seagulls
- Norths Devils
- Souths Logan Magpies
- Burleigh Bears