Siblings to add thrust to Cougars strikepower
Corrimal may have found a solution to their point-scoring woes after adding Group Seven's leading point-scorer Mark Brandon to their 2015 roster.
Along with brothers Steve and Kieran, Brandon was a key member of Nowra-Bomaderry's fairytale run to the Group Seven crown last year, upstaging favourites Warilla 30-20 in the grand final. Mark and Steve both scored tries, while Mark also booted five goals.
It followed last gasp finals wins over Gerringong and Shellharbour in the lead up in which the Brandon name also featured heavily. Brandon said he's still pinching himself months later.
"It was pretty crazy when you think about what we went through to get there," Brandon said.
"We had two really close games in the other finals. The game against Gerringong where Steve scored a try in the corner in the last second to win the game was pretty amazing in itself.
"To go on and win the grand final was even better."
Incredibly, the brothers combined for 304 points during the season - outstripping the Cougars 2014 team total by 84 points. Mark led the way with 27 tries and 39 goals for a personal tally of 186 points, while Steve was also no slouch in posting 20 tries. With the ability to find the stripe in short supply for the Cougars last year, the brothers will bring a much needed attacking X-factor. But their combined move to the Cougars was no fait accompli, Brandon says.
"I was just going to come up here to start with, and I wasn't sure what they were going to do," he said.
"But I talked to them about it and they decided they wanted to come on board as well.
"We usually like to play with each other, it's better that way, so it's good they came with me.
"It was a bit hard to start with, having to move, but now I'm all settled. The club's really helped me out with the move and settling in to training, and it has been really good."
The increased training intensity has been a shock to the system, but Brandon is relishing the chance to test himself in bush football's toughest league.
"I came here to train and test myself out," he said.
"It has been tough so far, with preseason training being so ruthless, but it has been good. It is better than just running round the paddock and not really doing much."
Leaving a team looking to defend a premiership for one that is looking to avoid back-to-back wooden spoons is a dramatic shift, but Brandon is confident that under new coach Brendon Reeves and with a host of new faces that the Cougars will surprise a few sides come season kick-off.
This article originally appeared in the Illawarra Mercury on 13/2/2015