Brisbane Tigers hooker Tristan Hope has his sights set on back-to-back Hostplus Cup premierships in 2024, but before he gets there, the proud No.9 will go into battle against his Tigers teammates this Saturday.
Hope, who was an integral part of the Tigers’ stunning 2023 campaign, was rewarded for his career-best form last year with a Melbourne Storm pre-season.
After claiming the trophy for the Tigers for the first time in the Cup era, Hope went down to Melbourne with fellow grand finalist Tom Rafter to take part in a pre-Christmas train-and-trial.
The duo were also joined by new Tigers signings for 2024, Treigh Stewart (St George Illawarra Dragons) and Jontay Betham-Misa (Parramatta Eels).
“We all just ripped in,” Hope said of his time in Melbourne.
“The first thing I noticed was just the intensity of everything. It’s just backing up every day. There were pretty gruelling sessions there and the intensity they expect day in, day out… even doing gym or wrestle or contact or whatever it is, the standard is so high and the intensity is so high.
“The biggest learning for me was getting my body right to do that every day – preparing and doing all the stuff off the field to give yourself the best chance to train at that level that they expect every day.
“It was stretching, mobility, hot and colds and all of those things. You had to do it, it was a non-negotiable. I had to put more time into my body.
“I couldn’t just rock up and expect to perform at the certain level they expect. Although you’re doing a lot of load throughout the day, you still need to find time outside of footy to get that done.”
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The 26-year-old returned to the Tigers’ HQ in early January, but said he is bringing everything he can with him back to Cup, as he strives to help his side to back-to-back premierships.
Hope – who missed the 2023 NRL State Championship through suspension – said his big goals for 2024 were to be as consistent as last season and to see his team return to grand final day in September.
“With the 32-year drought we had and to break that, to see grown men in the Leagues Club crying because they’ve been waiting for that moment… to do it back-to-back, it’s about more than just myself,” Hope said.
“It’s the group, it’s your family, your friends and everyone who rides the wave with you. That’s what means the most.”
To do this though, he knew he had to bring what he learned at Melbourne back home, even if it would be more difficult in a part-time system.
“Down there you’re full time so you’re fully training and have the luxury of literally living and breathing footy, so you have no excuse,” Hope said.
“That’s the difference I notice coming back to Cup. You still have to go to work, you have family and everything like that.
“But it’s about being professional and finding the time regardless of work and family commitments and that sort of stuff. You feel so much better for it and your body is better prepared to train at that level.”
While his goals for this season are firmly based around the Tigers and their success, Hope will get the chance to have a pre-season hit-out in Melbourne colours when he lines up for them in Saturday’s trials against the Sunshine Coast Falcons and the Brisbane Tigers at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
The three clubs will face off against each other in round robin-style from 5pm.
“I’ll be coming up against the boys but it’s all part of the experience and opportunity,” he said.
“At the back end of my career, as I’m at now, you take an opportunity like that with both hands and see what happens. For me, it’s a great reward for a pretty successful season.
“Individually I was really proud of the consistency of the footy I was able to put together last year so I suppose it’s more so than the fact of trying to chase an NRL gig but a reward and a recognition.
“I’m really grateful for that opportunity that (the Tigers) have given me and then the Storm… I’m just really humbled and grateful.”