GOOD TO BE BACK:Roy Bell, right, with his father, Tom Avery.
GOOD TO BE BACK:Roy Bell, right, with his father, Tom Avery.

Big heart overcomes small stature

By GLEN SCOTT

HE'S the little big man of the National Rugby League. Former Tabulam footballer Roy Bell made his first-grade debut for the South Sydney Rabbitohs this year and, according to NRLrecords, he is the lightest player in the premiership. At 65kg, Bell is hardly battleship size even by 'man in the street' measurements, but he has a big heart to help him contend with opposing forwards such as Gorden Tallis and Willie Mason. While the old adage 'a good big man will always beat a good little man' may ring true most of the time, players like Bell, Penrith's Preston Campbell and North Queensland's Matt Bowen are sending a clear reply: You have to catch me first. The diminutive fullback recently returned to Tabulam to take part in the annual Cabbage Tree Island Aboriginal rugby league knockout at Ballina, turning out for Tabulam 1. Even though his team lost to Northern United in the final, Bell was judged player of the match. Bell was happy to be back in Tabulam and said the locals had been very supportive. "It's good to be back and good to be out of the city," he said. "I haven't seen my family for six or eight months. Everyone has been great, shaking my hand and welcoming me back." How does he cope with tackling giants for a living when he'd be better placed dressed in jockey silks? "Yeah, it's pretty tough," he laughed. "I've played against guys like Carl Webb and Soloman Haumono, and they're big boys. "My agility and speed off the mark helps." Taking things one step at a time, Bell's ambition in 2005 is to consolidate a place in first grade and make the Rabbitohs' fullback jersey his own. "I'm not aiming too high, I just want to play as many first-grade games as I can," he said. "I played a lot of halfback (in juniors), but I'd like to hold the fullback spot in the long term." Bell will return to training for Souths on November 8.



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