New recruit Denford to captain Corrimal Cougars
Corrimal promise to produce the unexpected this year, but it's unlikely they'll match the surprise new skipper Jacob Denford felt when handed the captaincy.
Denford, who won a premiership with the Engadine Dragons in the Shire competition last year, is yet to play a competition game for the Cougars but is the standout choice for new coach Brendon Reeves.
He'll lead them out for the first time at Ziems Park against Dapto in the Coal League season-opener on Friday night.
"It was a bit unexpected coming down to a new club this year," Denford said, after being appointed this week.
"I only found out last week that I've got the role for this year. I spoke to a couple of clubs down here including Dave [Adams] at Corrimal and they were looking to rebuild.
"That was a bit of a personal challenge so, hopefully, I can go all right down here. I'm definitely stoked to be captain and I'm looking forward to hopefully winning a few games down here this year."
With 144 NRL games to his credit and having taken Wests to a grand final in 2005, Reeves is the best-credentialed coach the Cougars have had in a number of seasons and Denford said they had benefited from his no-nonsense approach.
"Discipline is a big thing we needed to change this year on and off the field," he said.
"Reevesy brings discipline so this year we've had a big emphasis on fitness and getting the k's in the legs and the boys are looking fit.
"I'm only new to the club but since starting in November and seeing how far we've come I've noticed how much we've come along."
The Cougars will enter the season high on confidence after earning a tough golden-point win over Gymea in the pre-season Challenge Cup in a marathon-like clash.
"It was definitely a confidence builder," Denford said.
"We ended up playing something like 103 minutes. I know I was sore for the next few days after it.
"The boys didn't win a game at all last year so to win a game up there under pretty tough circumstances was good for us.
"We're only a new side as well so to get a win like that helped the boys come together a bit more and provide some confidence.
"We've got to make a strong first impression. If we're going to start the season strong we really need to get a win up early and upsetting Dapto would be a great start to the year."
This article originally appeared in the Illawarra Mercury on 9/4/2015