After making history last year as the first player to be part of a loan deal between clubs in Cup, Hiale Roycroft is keen to write a new chapter in his rugby league story with Mackay Cutters this year.
While his new side were tripped up in Round 1 by a spirited PNG Hunters team, there is much to look forward to for Cutters fans and Roycroft, part of the premiership-winning Norths Devils squad last year, who is eager to be part of another winning culture.
“Mackay stood out as a club that was kind of looking like it was in a bit of a rebuild stage and they had recruited a couple of new coaching staff and (former) coaching staff like Kim Williams and Dave from Townsville, so I thought that was a great opportunity to be part of a club that was starting anew again in a way,” Roycroft said.
“I thought it would be great challenge to be part of a new group coming through and being part of a community club and you can say that with the amount of support the Cutters get community-wise.
“(We new players) didn’t have any issues jumping into the group that was already here and have been based in Mackay, they have been really welcoming... so we have been really building on trying to create a culture that is really welcoming and everyone is really proud of being part of the club.”
Roycroft – who has also played Cup with Tweed Seagulls and has previously been part of NRL systems with North Queensland Cowboys and the Brisbane Broncos – featured in four games with Central Queensland Capras while ‘on loan’ last year – a process Roycroft said was a challenging, but ultimately rewarding.
“It was interesting, I had been playing in the Brisbane Rugby League probably until late April and the Capras were asking Norths to see if I could play a couple games on a loan deal and Norths gave me the opportunity to do that,” the forward said.
“It was challenging… I was travelling on a Friday afternoon after work, I had to leave work early and then play with Capras on the weekend and they fly back and then I would train with Norths on the Monday once I got back.
“I did that for five weeks and it was an experience-and-a-half, but I pretty grateful for the opportunity because I got to play some Cup footy and I think that if I didn’t get the opportunity to do that, I probably wouldn’t have had the really good back-end footy that I had with Norths at the end of the year.
“I think I was the first one to do it, so it was interesting definitely. I enjoyed every minute of it, it was challenging mentally and physically, but it was pretty cool.
“But when you are wanting to play footy and be part of what was Intrust Super Cup footy, it’s just something you have to take, I enjoyed it was pretty fun.”
Currently studying social work, Roycroft, who also works with the Department of Child Safety, said his major goals on the football field this year were to channel the history of the club and take the Cutters back to the top.
“I think my main focus individually and as a team is to make finals; we spoke about it as a leadership group over the pre-season... we didn’t have the results the club were expecting the past couple of seasons, so this season, we were expecting a fresh outlook of wanting to improve on those results and finals are definitely on our mind,” Roycroft said.
“We are obviously building a really strong culture here… (and) they won it in 2013, they had a really good squad then.
“Every team has the opportunity to win the Cup … it’s just about how they plan and approach each team week-in, week-out and I think that is what we are trying to drive here.”
Mackay Cutters gains and losses
Gains: Andre Niko (Burleigh Bears), Hiale Roycroft (Norths Devils), Jayden Morgan (Jamberoo, NSW) Jack Kavanagh (Macquarie Raiders, Dubbo), Luke Ingram (Wagga Kangaroos, NSW) Kyle Schneider (Parramatta Eels), Mitch Fogarty (Townsville Blackhawks), Harry Freebairn (Norths Devils), Zac Patch (Gungahlin Bulls), Brett Kelly (Lismore Marist Brothers), Tom Sly (Kawana Dolphins), Sam Fa’apito (Beerwah / Norths Devils), Jordan Hill (Wests Tigers), Ewan Coutts (Mackay Souths), Matt Vessey (Mackay Magpies), Jake Hawkins (Nynga), Hayden Pace (Mackay Magpies), Jack Hoffman (Mackay Cutters Hastings Deering Colts), Flynn Camilleri (Mackay Cutters Hastings Deering Colts) Luke Webley (Mackay Cutters Hastings Deering Colts), Blake Paskins (Mackay Cutters Hastings Deering Colts), Henri Stocks (Mackay Cutters Hastings Deering Colts), Tyler Holmes (Mackay Cutters Hastings Deering Colts)
Losses: Rayden Burns (Canberra Raiders), Josh Smith (Canberra Raiders), Bayley Gill (Featherstone Rovers), Adam Cook (Warriors train and trial), Jesse Dee (Newcastle Thunder), Kai O’Donnell (Burleigh Bears), Matiu Stone Dunn (Burleigh Bears), Jack Quinn (Mounties, NSW), Jaymon Moore (Townsville Blackhawks), Paul Byrnes (local league), Blake Atherton (local league), Aidan Beard (local league), Beaudan Dixon (local league), Shaun Edwards (local league), Kellen Jenner (local league), Sam Johnstone (local league), Buchanan Rawhiti (local league), Jake Thornton (local league)
Other Hostplus Cup club gains and losses
PNG Hunters: Cup gains and losses for 2022
Wynnum Manly Seagulls: Cup gains and losses for 2022
Brisbane Tigers: Cup gains and losses for 2022
Burleigh Bears: Cup gains and losses for 2022
Norths Devils: Cup gains and losses for 2022
Redcliffe Dolphins: Cup gains and losses for 2022
Sunshine Coast Falcons: Cup gains and losses for 2022
Souths Logan Magpies: Cup gains and losses for 2022
Townsville Blackhawks: Cup gains and losses for 2022
Tweed Seagulls: Cup gains and losses for 2022
Ipswich Jets: Cup gains and losses for 2022
*Submissions made by clubs and correct at time of publication.