NEW FUTURE: Damien Otto, pictured playing for Hervey Bay Seagulls earlier this year, will join Isis Devils for the 2018 Bundaberg Rugby League season.
NEW FUTURE: Damien Otto, pictured playing for Hervey Bay Seagulls earlier this year, will join Isis Devils for the 2018 Bundaberg Rugby League season. Alistair Brightman

Crafty hooker Otto leaves Seagulls for Isis

THE departure of Damien Otto's closest friends opened the door for his own exit from Hervey Bay Seagulls.

The workmanlike hooker, who can also play in the back row and halves, has linked with Isis Devils for the 2018 Bundaberg Rugby League season.

"It was just opportunity,” Otto said.

"The Seagulls didn't do anything wrong by me at all, I just found it difficult to stick around as my mates left.”

Damien Otto scored a vital try for Hervey Bay Seagulls in their 2016 Bundaberg Rugby League grand final win against The Waves Tigers.
Damien Otto scored a vital try for Hervey Bay Seagulls in their 2016 Bundaberg Rugby League grand final win against The Waves Tigers. Matthew McInerney

That close group of mates includes former captain Clinton Horne and flyer Billy Stefaniuk, both of whom will play for The Waves Tigers next year, along with Dan Goodwin, who could join Maryborough Brothers.

"Seeing those guys leave, it made it hard for me to stay,” Otto said.

Otto scored a vital, opportunistic try during Hervey Bay's grand final win against the Tigers in 2016.

The 25-year-old will take the chance for a new challenge at a club like no other in the BRL.

While the Devils have struggled for results in recent years, the Childers club has fielded a squad that features the toughest players in the competition.

Damien Otto won a grand final at Hervey Bay Seagulls.
Damien Otto won a grand final at Hervey Bay Seagulls. Matthew McInerney

Isis finished with the wooden spoon in 2016, before injury ruined a promising 2017 campaign, during which they finished seventh.

A new coach in the form of James Murray-Bryant, and the recruitment of players including Otto and Hervey Bay teammates Dion Bunyan and Ashley O'Donnell could make Isis even stronger.

"The culture the boys have there, it attracted me from the start,” Otto said.

"Their home ground (Childers Showground) and the support there's nothing like it. It's all just different.”

Otto made his name at hooker while at Wallaroos, and spent most of his two years at Hervey Bay at dummy-half, but he could find himself in the back row or the halves at Isis.

Damien Otto played his junior footy and made his A-grade debut for Wallaroos.
Damien Otto played his junior footy and made his A-grade debut for Wallaroos. Alistair Brightman

Reigning joint BRL Player of the Year Tim Cole has a mortgage on the Devils' No.9 jersey, which leaves Murray- Bryant with the decision to either rotate the pair at hooker, shift one player to another position, or move one to reserve grade.

Otto admitted he didn't know where he'd end up, but said he looked forward to the chance to play alongside Cole, and the home of former Queensland Rangers back-rower Jake Thompson.

"Going away for rep with a few of the guys and they've always asked me,” Otto said.

"They've had a high quality of players there like Jake Thompson, Tim Cole, Nathan Sullivan was there for a few years.

"Dion (Bunyan) was another reason and they used him as a talking point. He's a freak of a player.”

Otto said Murray-Bryant was one of the most organised coaches under whom he has trained or played in his young career.

The Seagulls are yet to name an A-grade coach for the 2018 season, but were expected to confirm an appointment last night.



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