By Jordan Hughes
Irish import and Bond University forward Matt Dalton has finished his time with the Bull Sharks and is heading back to England to join the Newcastle Falcons for the pre-season in preparation for the upcoming English Premiership season.
The 23-year-old, who stands 198cm and tips the scales at a hefty 120kg, has been a handy addition to Bond’s forward pack after previously spending time with the club in 2019.
“It’s been good personally, with this being my second time in Australia with Bond and being a bit older and knowing my way around the Gold Coast a bit better, it has been really enjoyable,” he said.
“Rugby wise has been a bit frustrating because of my knee, tearing my MCL and missing six weeks during the season was annoying, especially as I really came out here to get more game time and contribute to Bond.”
Dalton who plays in the second row or at blindside flanker added value straight off the plane for Bond making his physical prowess felt from his first game by adding some much-needed extra weight at scrum time.
“It was a pretty seamless transition with a lot of the core guys from 2019 still around in the program,” he said.
“And the style of rugby Bond plays is very similar to what I’ve been used to so there was no hesitation or awkwardness which made it easy slotting in.’’
Dalton, a former Ireland under 20s star, is beginning to make waves in his professional career as he prepares for his second season with the Newcastle Falcons, a club with 145 years of history and some famous names including English icon Jonny Wilkinson.
“I signed a two-year deal and played a handful of games last year during my first season playing in the Gallaher premiership in the top team, so it was a pretty daunting experience but I really enjoyed the year and have grown from that,” he said.
“During this stint with Bond where I was getting more game time will help me go back a better player as I’ve been able to build my match fitness and game awareness which is hard to replicate if you’re only training day in-day out.’’
The comprising styles of rugby between the northern and southern hemispheres has always been a topical conversation, Dalton who has experienced both definitely felt the differences.
“The game is much looser and faster down here, you really notice in your first 10-20 minutes playing especially in the heat, I’m used to the cold of the north of England,” he said.
“Last year we were shoveling snow to clear the field on game days and battling with constant rain, so it is a different feel to the Gold Coast, I lost around 6kg in my first game here.”
Away from Rugby, Dalton has soaked up the Gold Coast lifestyle with the different beaches and coffee spots but it’s the wineries in the hinterland that really hit the spot for the Irishman.
“I’ve made it a point to go to more wineries around Mt Tambourine and Sirromet Wines which I really enjoyed,” he said.
“This isn’t the end for me in Australia, I can see myself back here at some point on the Gold Coast.
“In my final game against Souths, I had the blue and gold beads tied into my mullet so I’m definitely a Bondy for life.”