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Northern Pride lure north Queensland talent home

The Northern Pride sought to “buy back the farm” in season 2020, signing up a number of north Queensland talents including Bernard Lewis, Javid Bowen and Rod Griffin to join their playing squad.

The club’s football manager Chey Bird said it was a key decision for the club to help build a strong core playing group.

“Northern Pride has a short history, but one rich with success and one that has always been built upon home-grown talent,” Bird said.

“Following on from a pretty well-documented ordinary season, we entered the player market with an ambition to get ourselves back into finals contention.

“To do this we aimed to ‘buy back the farm’ and try to entice players with ties to our footprint home.

“When you take a look around the Intrust Super Cup, Intrust Super Premiership and the NRL, there are numerous players that have their roots in far north Queensland and so we had a number of players with experience at high level football that we could attempt to lure back to the club to help in our rebuild.

“Like every club, we had identified a few areas in which we were lacking and so tried to ensure that we filled those gaps.

"Our criteria was simple, in that we wanted to not only recruit quality footballers, but most importantly that we recruited quality people that other players wanted to play with.”

Portrait of Bernard Lewis from his time with the Sydney Roosters. Photo: NRL Images
Portrait of Bernard Lewis from his time with the Sydney Roosters. Photo: NRL Images

One of those players was Lewis, a Cairns Kangaroos junior who was coming off contract with the Sydney Roosters.

“He’s a proven finisher, and adds speed out wide, but also brings a real willingness to roll up his sleeves and carry out of our end. And all with a 1000-watt smile,” Bird said.

He had similar praise for Bowen, who was named captain of the side earlier this year.

“Javid was coming off contract with North Queensland Cowboys and hailing from Hopevale, signing Javid was a no-brainer,” Bird said.

“Bringing almost 100 games worth of Cup experience with him, combined with his NRL experience, Javid also brings a link to the club’s last great year of success when he helped win the premiership and State Championship.

“A man of few words, Javid has absolutely blossomed through the pre-season and shown an enormous amount of leadership qualities and in doing so, has earned captaincy honours.”

 
 
 
 
 
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Our leaders for 2020 // @javidbowen (Captain) & @rodg4882 (Vice Captain)

A post shared by Northern Pride (@northernpriderugbyleague) on

His deputy Griffin, who has transferred from the Townsville Blackhawks, also brings a wealth of experience with him.

“He is a proven winner, and an Atherton junior,” Bird said.

“Rod has been on the club’s radar for a few seasons and his value to the playing group cannot be over-stated. His approach to his preparation has been invaluable to the younger players in the squad.”

Other new signings to the club include Josh Stuckey, who Bird said would be a genuine ball playing threat.

Bird described Nick Lui Toso, who has joined from the Penrith Panthers, as an explosive prop with plenty of aggression, who came highly recommended from all that had been involved with him.

While the football season has been postponed for now and players are following the government advice to stay home, the Pride have found key personnel to help them strive for their goals when football returns to the field. 

Northern Pride signing Nick Lui Toso. Photo: Scott Davis / QRL
Northern Pride signing Nick Lui Toso. Photo: Scott Davis / QRL

Northern Pride gains and losses 

Gains

Javid Bowen (North Queensland Cowboys), Gideon Gela-Mosby (North Queensland Cowboys), Matthew Egan (Burleigh Bears), Lata Fakalelu (Innisfail Leprechauns), Rod Griffin (Townsville Blackhawks), Bernard Lewis (Sydney Roosters), Chris Ostwald (Easts Tigers), Pio Seci (Atherton Roosters), Josh Stuckey (Queanbeyan Blues), Nick Lui Toso (Penrith Panthers)

Losses

David Murphy (work commitments), Tom Hancock (Townsville Blackhawks), Jared Allen (retired), Will Bugden (retired), Dom Biondi (released), Jordan Biondi-Odo (released), Maurice Blair (released),  Aiden Day (released), Jack Murphy (released), Hugh Sedger (released), Bradley Stephen (released), Brayden Torpy (released), Cameron Torpy (released)

2020 gains and losses