“It was a chance for me to transition into the NRL and to play some footy at the top-level”.
When the opportunity came calling late last year, Kane Bradley grabbed it with both hands, and even though it meant moving to another state, some 2,000 kilometers from family and friends, Bradley knew this could be the chance he had been waiting for.
“I had been in Sydney my whole life and I saw this as a very good opportunity to try something new and hopefully make my [first-grade] debut.”
The 21-year-old had certainly done enough to catch the eye of the Cowboys with an impressive display in 2019 in the Tigers’ NSW Cup side, scoring nine tries in 17 games. Bradley made an effortless transition from second-row onto the wing and is a player that offers good versatility and shows an eagerness to learn. His game-day rituals include a sleep-in and eggs on toast for breakfast, nothing fancy, but it seems to be getting the job done.
The Cowboys' new recruit was born and bred in the suburb of Bankstown in Sydney’s west, a long way from tropical palm trees and salty sea breezes. Bradley first laced up the boots at the tender age of six for Revesby Heights Rhinos, and during his junior league career, he represented Penshurst RSL, Bankstown Sports and Bass Hill High, who he credits for the big role they played in his development.
While it was a whirl-wind event to get up north between the pandemic and border closures, Bradley says his first few weeks in Townsville have gone well. He is settling into his new life nicely and his teammates are helping to make him feel right at home.
“The club has made it very easy to fit in. The boys and the coaching staff have really made me feel welcome and made the transition a lot easier than I originally thought it was going to be.”
Being a one footy team town, it has not taken long for the vibe in the community to be felt by Bradley, with fans quick to spot the new recruit and say hello, something he will have to get used to as Townsville gets to know him.
“Yes, surprisingly a few people have come up to me and introduced themselves, which has been really nice.”
The Cowboys head into the 2021 season with a new-look coaching staff headed by Todd Payten, who has arrived in Townsville with a clear vision for his new squad.
“I have only been here for a couple of weeks, but in my short time here I have really seen how much everyone has been buying into the coach, his style, and what he has brought to the club, so I think we are heading in the right direction," Badley said.
"[Payten's] training is definitely tough…but we will be better off for it during the season.”
Speaking about the good mix of both youth and experience in the squad this season, Bradley says the player who has caught his attention in pre-season (and not surprisingly) is high-flying winger, Kyle Feldt. At only 29 years of age and already the second-highest try-scorer in club history, Feldt is the perfect mentor for the up-and-coming winger to be taking notes from.
“One position and player I have been looking at is Kyle Feldt. He is an experienced winger who I can learn a lot from. He has been there and done it a million times before, so I have been taking a lot of points from him at training and hopefully I can work that into my game this coming season.”
Having shoulder surgery at the end of last year has not slowed down Bradley’s plans for 2021. His shoulder is recovering well, and with the lack of game time that many league players experienced last year due to COVID-19, he is more than keen to get back into full contact training and prove his worth.
“It's feeling really good and coming along nicely. I'm about three-and-half months into the recovery now and I aim to be back about Round 4, so I don’t miss too much time on the park. I have been getting stuck into the weights to try and put a bit of size back on the shoulder and get it ready for contact, which I will hopefully get back into in the next couple of weeks.”
Cowboys fans will remember not that long ago, there was another Kane who wore the jersey and who became part of the historic ‘immortal 17’ that won the club its maiden premiership in 2015. Kane Linnett played an impressive 164 games for the Cowboys and is remembered for his reliability and on-field toughness. The Cowboys ‘new Kane’, says he would also like to leave his mark on the club as someone who is professional, who shows up every day, puts their best foot forward and who does their job for the team.
Growing up, Bradley says he wanted to be like Greg Inglis, and as footy idols go, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone better to emulate. So, now that Bradley has signed a two-year deal with the Cowboys, let’s keep an eye on the young winger who wants to play the game like Inglis, who intends to leave his own mark on the club, and who has chased his NRL dream 2,000 kilometers across the country, for an opportunity too good to pass up.