South Sydney?s Roy Bell, third from left, is congratulated by team-mates after scoring against the Broncos in August 2004.
South Sydney?s Roy Bell, third from left, is congratulated by team-mates after scoring against the Broncos in August 2004.

Bulkier Bunny

By Steve Spinks

When Tabulam's Roy Bell made his debut for South Sydney last year he was the lightest player in the NRL competition.

The diminutive fullback weighed in at 65kg ... a far cry from the hulking figures usually associated with rugby league.

But he still managed to impress plenty in the game with his electrifying footwork and speed off the mark.

Look out St George!

Bell has bulked up ... to 71kg.

He'll be showing off his new frame off the bench this Saturday night against the Dragons in the annual Charity Shield match at Aussie Stadium.

"I'm around Presto's (Penrith's Preston Campbell) weight now," Bell chuckled.

"I don't think I'd be the lightest any more.

"They put me on my own program and it's (weight) coming along slowly."

Tough start

Bell admits his first full professional pre-season was tough, but he knows it's made him a more complete footballer.

The amicable 20-year-old is thrilled to be a part of the Charity Shield tradition.

"It's fantastic," he enthused.

"I'm only coming off four first grade games last year ... to be picked again in first grade is great."

Although selected as a fullback last season and not in his regular positions of halfback of five-eighth, Bell said he was happy to play out of position again this season.

"I'm not too worried where I play ... I'd play anywhere," he said.

"I've been doing a bit at training around the pivots, but I'll just go wherever the coach says."

The rookie Rabbitoh is full of enthusiasm for the 2005 season after Souths signed a couple of experienced first-graders, including Shannon Hegarty and Peter Cusack from the Roosters.

The Rabbitohs also have a new coach in Shaun McRae.

Bell is not the only former Group One player with Souths.

Former Ballina Seagull Matt Riddle, from Lennox Head, also made his debut for the Rabbitohs last season on the wing.

"He (Riddle) knew a bit about me because he's a bit older," Bell said.

"When we found out we're from the same area we hung out a bit.

"He made it heaps easier at Souths because he knew a lot of the boys."

After starting in first grade, Riddle had a horror run with injuries and missed most of the 2004 season.

Currently he's in the Premier League squad.

As for Bell, he's just keen to keep improving.

"My hope is just to play first grade," the level-headed youngster said.

And with a new bulked-up body, nobody's about to argue with him.



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