The RaboDirect Rebels' latest rugby league convert is hungry to get involved at for his first season in professional rugby, and has spoken of how privileged he is to learn from the best in Melbourne.
Former Brisbane Bronco Bryce Hegarty joins the Rebels EPS squad for season 2013, and the budding flyhalf/fullback is looking forward to having the likes of James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale mentor him.
“Obviously in those guys (Beale & O’Connor), I have the opportunity to learn from arguably the best in the game at the moment," said Hegarty.
"I am a very lucky guy to have that opportunity and I plan on soaking up what I can from them and the other senior guys.”
Hegarty will be the youngest member of the Rebels’ squad, but he is delighted to be following the likes of Lote Tuqiri, Wendell Sailor and Brad Thorn in switching from the Broncos to Rugby Union, albeit at a different stage of his career than the dual internationals.
“It was a tough decision, and I spoke to a couple of NRL clubs (about 2013), but the Rebels just seemed like the best move at this stage of my career," said Hegarty.
"I have always been interested in Rugby Union as a career, and (Rebels Recruiting Manager) Sam Cordingley managed to convince me to make the move here. Now I just want to take this opportunity with both hands.”
It is the first time living interstate for the Queenslander, and one senses that getting out of his comfort zone was one of the attractions about moving to Victoria.
“I had only just turned 20 a couple of weeks before I moved here, but I was interested to see how the club operates down here obviously with all of the AFL drawing so much of the focus.," said Hegarty.
“I have been very impressed with the club culture; it’s really refreshing and I can’t wait for next year.”
And what does next year have in store for Bryce?
“I will try and push for the team of course but mainly I just want to learn about the game and learn from the senior guys throughout pre-season, and perform when I am given the chance.”
Rebels recruiting manager Sam Cordingley says that Hegarty will use his first year to develop his game primarily.
“Perhaps more so than the other new guys Bryce will be learning the trade a little bit in 2013. We see him most likely as playing a role in the back three, so he has to really knuckle down and get his head around the positional aspect of that.
“Obviously with Bryce being at the Broncos, he hasn’t played rugby since he was in high school, but he was a very impressive performer at that level and also showed a lot of ability playing for the Broncos youth side, where he showed his playmaking skills and ability to guide a team around the park," said Cordingley.
“Bryce is a great ball player, has a very good work ethic and big aspirations to become a professional rugby player. He is very driven, and his kicking game is already excellent. He is definitely a very exciting signing.”
One only has to look at the record of Thorn, Sailor, Tuqiri and Peter Ryan (ACT Brumbies) to see that the Broncos have inavertedly become a fantastic breeding ground for Rugby Union talent, and with such a good head on his shoulders and the above-mentioned qualities, you wouldn’t bet against Hegarty being the next addition to that list of success stories.
Pete Fairbairn is a freelance writer and a big RaboDirect Rebels fan. You can follow him on twitter @skippytbk