After what he rightly called a “dream year”, Jordan McLean is on a mission to earn his place in North Queensland Cowboys' top 17 via hard work, and not his reputation as one of the NRL's top props.
McLean will join the Cowboys next week for pre-season training on the back of a season where he won a premiership with the Melbourne Storm and a World Cup with the Kangaroos.
The arrival of the towering 26-year-old will give the Cowboys one of the most feared middle forward rotations in the Telstra Premiership, a fact co-captain Matt Scott recognised when he conceded the pack would have “a fair target on our heads”.
McLean’s mindset is not to look back at what he has achieved, but to roll his sleeves up and embrace the challenge of making an impact at his new Telstra Premiership club.
“It was the dream year for a rugby league player to have, but now I’ve got to put in some hard work at the Cowboys and earn the boys’ trust,” McLean told NRL.com.
“I’m not going there with a big head. I’m going to do my time in pre-season and put the hard work in and hopefully some good things will come off the back of that.
“I’ve had the chance to play with Michael Morgan during the World Cup and should gain plenty of confidence lining up beside guys like Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and Jason Taumalolo.”
Scott, set to return to the field after a lengthy recovery from a knee injury, said McLean was “a huge signing and a massive acquisition for the club”
“As a front-rower he is a great fit and fills that different body shape that Jimmy Tamou played for us in the front-row rotation which I think is important,” Scott said.
“It is a hard tackle to make when you are trying to bring down a big, tall fella like that.
“With Scott Bolton, who was outstanding for us last season, and Jason Taumalolo who is not that bad either ... John Asiata, Coen Hess and Shaun Fensom we have a good mix of body shapes, experience and skill level.
“As a Cowboy, it is exciting, but there is a lot of work ahead because as a pack we will also have a fair target on our head as well. That will be another hurdle for us to cross.”
Scott said someone of McLean’s character would fit in seamlessly with the tightknit group.
”I know Jordan is a good bloke as well as a good footy player. He has come through the Melbourne Storm system and will fit in with the group of players we have really well,” Scott said.
“We have a really good group of people up here and he is another one of them. He has a relationship with a few of our players through the junior system in Justin O’Neill and Ben Hampton.”
McLean will feel right at home in North Queensland on the family front as well.
“I have family up north,” he said.
“My mum is up there and my partner’s (Brianna Apps) family is up there and she was born there. We’ve got two kids now, Archie and Tex, so we have support up there we can rely on.”