LUCAS GETS HIS CHANCE AT SOUTHCITY
By Les Muir
NEW Southcity halfback Ben Lucas has certainly come the long way to get his crack at his first grade debut with the Bulls.
Arguably one of the fittest footballers in the region, Lucas has been rushed into Southcity’s starting team for the duel with Tumbarumba at Harris Park on Sunday.
Lucas has been given the call following the continued move to hooker of Southcity’s champion halfback Kyle McCarthy and an injury to last week’s replacement Thomas Besgrove.
At 26 years old, Lucas has made only three previous appearances off the bench in first grade for Southcity.
But like any football odyssey that is only part of the story.
Lucas cut his teeth in rugby league in Wagga at Kangaroos before abruptly making a dramatic switch in codes.
“I finished at Roos in 2011,” Lucas said on Thursday.
“I actually went and played Aussie Rules with Nathan Dowdle at North Wagga.”
After four years with the Saints, however, Lucas decided the time was right to return to rugby league, but with a different Group Nine club.
For Lucas, the transition from football at McPherson Oval to Harris Park has had its moments.
“I certainly wake up a bit sorer (after playing league),” Lucas laughed on Thursday.
“There’s obviously bit more contact ... and there’s also a different type of fitness needed.
“You do a lot more running in Rules.”
Remarkably, Lucas has also needed to contend with a radical change in position from his earlier experience at Kangaroos.
“I mainly played second row or lock at Roos,” he said.
With a dedicated background in CrossFit, Lucas definitely has the explosive speed be a decisive halfback.
And he will be acutely aware Tumbarumba will have him in their sights on Sunday.
Looking ahead to the clash with the 10th-placed team, Lucas says the Greens have the firepower to belie their lowly position.
“They’ve got massive pack of forwards,” he said.
“They’ve also got good backs.”
Despite giving Tumbarumba a favourable rating, Lucas is adamant the Bulls are concentrating only on “their game”.
“We talked about it on Tuesday night (at training),” he said.
“We have to get back to playing our style and our game.”
Without captain-coach Nick Skinner on the field, Southcity was right off their usual relentless pattern in struggling to a lacklustre 30-16 win over Junee last Saturday.
Skinner will again be missing on Sunday because of a hamstring problem, throwing extra pressure on stopgap prop Jordan Shepherd to support Jayden Jeans.