Games for the Bull Sharks are earned, not gifted.
That statement of the culture at Bond Rugby under head coach Grant Anderson was made loud and clear in this week’s team selections with star recruit, former England Under 20s star Dan Lancaster, to cool his jets in second grade.
Like he did last week, just days after landing from the UK, Lancaster will play the first half in second grade against Norths at Hugh Courtney Oval on Saturday before taking his place on the pine for Anderson’s first grade squad.
The twenty-year-old son of former England coach Stuart Lancaster was a key figure in England’s Under 20s six nations triumph in 2021 and has been playing professionally for the Leicester Tigers.
Anderson said while the torrential conditions Lancaster encountered in his first taste of Premier Rugby against Wests last week had denied him the chance to show his offensive flair, there was no doubt he was bringing legitimate competition for a key playmaker role in the first grade side.
“He’s new to the club and has got to earn his spot, we’ve got a lot of good players who play in the midfield backs,’’ he said.
“He is still getting used to our systems and he has got to develop an understanding and combination with the players in team.
“It was hard to get a real good gauge because of the conditions, but there is no doubt he has ability as a player having played professionally in Europe and for England Under 20s and we’ve liked what we have seen in training.’’
Anderson took a similar path with former Irish Under 20s player Matt Dalton who will get his first start at lock on Saturday after making his first appearance on his return to the Bull Sharks on the bench.
In other changes, Spencer Jeans returns from Super Rugby duties while Wilson Blyth is back at lock after also travelling to Auckland with the Reds last week.
Lancaster had a sodden start to his stint with the Bull Sharks. Training took place in the car park when heavy rain on the Gold Coast forced the closure of fields and then his first outing was played in some of the wildest conditions witnessed in premier rugby in years.
“I really enjoyed it, it was tough conditions - I have obviously bought the weather with me,’’ he said.
“It was a great experience, nice to get a win in one game and there is stuff to improve on with the first team, but I really enjoyed it and I am glad I’m here.’’
He said he had no regrets cutting short his stint at Leicester as he believed the knowledge of Australian rugby he could gain with the Bull Sharks would improve him as a player.
“My big focus is getting a lot of experience here in Australia so I can take it back to England,’’ he said.
“Hopefully I can learn about the two contrasting styles because over here is it a lot more expansive while in the English premiership there is more kicking.
“I just want to learn and get better.’’