League star returns to his old stamping ground
RUGBY LEAGUE: Bill Cullen is back at the Rockhampton Leagues Club Capras after a nine-month stint with NRL club the Canberra Raiders.
The 22-year-old arrived back in Rockhampton at the weekend and will likely line up for the Capras in their opening Intrust Super Cup clash against Easts Tigers at Browne Park on Saturday.
The Central Queensland product was snapped up by the Raiders in June last year and despite coming close to cracking the NRL, had to settle for a starting spot in the affiliate NSW Cup team, the Mounties.
Cullen has signed with the Capras for the 2018 season and coach Kim Williams said he would provide a huge boost for the club and would easily slot back into the line-up.
He will bolster a forward pack that already boasts NRL star Dave Taylor, with whom Cullen trained and played at Canberra last year, and the talented Jerry Key.
"We've monitored Bill's position with the Raiders since he went there and we always hope for the best, that he was going to make it at this point in time with the NRL, but it hasn't worked out that way,” Williams told media yesterday.
"He's had nine months down there and no doubt learned a lot and we're looking forward to what he brings back to our club.
"We just see this as the beginning of Bill's journey. He's only 22 and (there's) still a big window for him to get back into the NRL so that's certainly one of our goals to help him along his path there but in the meantime we'll enjoy the benefits of having him here.”
While Cullen's passion still burns to return to an NRL system, he appreciates that a strong showing with the Capras will help him realise that ambition again.
He is keen to apply and share with his Capras teammates the knowledge gleaned at the Raiders.
"It was a big learning curve,” Cullen said.
"There's a few NRL second-tier players that get dropped back into the Q-Cup so the level difference actually isn't tremendous.
"It's more the 1 per center things that are the big difference with time in the wrestle, stuff in a tackle, the execution and stuff like that goes to the next level where you're at the NRL level.
"In the way of contact and body sizes, it's actually really similar.
"If you can perform really well at that Queensland Cup level you're putting your best foot forward to be a pretty good NRL player as well.”