Recruit sets sights on big season
AS A rugby league player from Tingha, it's only natural to want to follow in the footsteps of one of the all-time greats of the game - Preston Campbell.
And that's exactly who 18-year-old Brayden Vickery will try and emulate when he runs out for the Evans Head Bombers this season.
Vickery has just moved to the area from Tingha to attend Southern Cross University in Lismore and has fond memories of the role Gold Coast Titans stalwart Campbell played in his development at centre and fullback.
"He is definitely an inspiration to the club and the entire town," Vickery said.
"I've met him a couple of times and I always tried to take in as much as I could."
Vickery is the cousin of the 2011 NSW Country Rugby Union player of the year and Lennox Head Trojans centre Sam Stewart.
Stewart was instrumental in Vickery linking up with the Bombers.
"He (Stewart) put me in touch with one of the club managers and that was all it took," Vickery said.
"I left it a bit late so I was lucky to find a club.
"I want to play centre but I can cover fullback and kick goals."
Switching codes to play rugby union with his cousin was never an option for Vickery.
He also knows he has big shoes to fill with the departure of former NSW Country centre Clarence Kelly.
The Bombers have also lost two of their best young talents with hooker Drew Tebbutt and winger Brad Fletcher moving to Brisbane.
"So I've heard, I definitely have some big shoes to fill," Vickery said.
"But I can't really worry too much about that."
The Bombers had their first trial game of the season at Stan Payne Oval, Evans Head, on Saturday and fielded an under-strength team against a well-drilled Wests Panthers side from Brisbane.
They lost 36-4 after trailing 22-0 after just 20 minutes.
"It's a new team and it took us a while but I think we started to gel towards the end and we'll only get better," Vickery said
"It was a bit of match fitness if nothing else I suppose."
Bombers club manager Brad Mayes is thrilled to have another enthusiastic teenager on board.
"Our young guys have developed really well for us over the past couple of years," Mayes said.
The National Rugby League competition kicks off on Thursday night with the Newcastle Knights to host St George Illawarra Dragons at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle.
The Knights versus Dragons match will be the first of a veritable feast of tantalising clashes between bitter rivals.