Darby the Devil
THE Isis Devils’ attacking armoury boasts some big guns this season with the signings of backline speed machines Lyal Darby and Kurt Thompson.
Darby was a 47th Battalion representative last season and has been a regular in a successful Brothers outfit for a few years, while Thompson returns home from a stint with the Melbourne Storm under-20 squad.
The pair’s recruitment is in line with Devils president Bill Trevor’s focus on luring locals and former players back to the club.
“Lyal was ready for a change, so we were delighted to be able to negotiate successfully with him,” Trevor said.
“He has family in Apple Tree Creek, and Kurt is a local boy coming home.”
Trevor rated Thompson as one of the best “hole runners” he had ever seen, while Darby is widely regarded as arguably the most destructive broken field runner in the Bundaberg Rugby League competition.
And the news may get better.
The whisper in the Devils camp is that there is another flyer set to sign next week. With the other pair, it will make the backline sizzle further.
Although 2009 halfback Lewis Hopkins is still to sign with the club, officials are confident that his last season’s success, complemented with new players outside him, will be enough to see his return to the Furnace.
While Darby was the Brethren fullback last year, he is expected to form the centre partnership with Thompson.
“I’m happy to play wherever ‘Jonesy’ (coach David Jones) wants to play me,” Darby said.
“I felt as though I needed a change and the opportunity of playing with a strong club like the Devils has been a real bonus.”
Devils A-grade coach David Jones said while there would be expectations for the boom pair to perform, he just wanted them to enjoy their football.
“I won’t be putting any extra pressure on them,” Jones said.
“There’ll be enough of that from outside.
“I just want them to enjoy their football, if they’re doing that the results will speak for themselves.”
Also joining the Devils for this season is former Nambour Crushers grand final prop Peter Grant, who will add even more muscle to the omnipotent Devils pack.
Trevor said the front-row forward’s early-season training form was better than expected.
“Peter is only new to the area and had last season off,” Trevor said.
“But you can sense he’s got the goods.
“He’s tall and strong and reports are he can offload a ball.”
Fullback Greg Sullivan has not returned to the club, and his intentions are not known at this time.
At this early stage, the only player losses from Childers appear to be Tyrone Hopgood and Mike Pettit, who will play with the Hervey Bay Seagulls, which is closer to where they both live.
Their return to the Bay coincides with former Seagull Clint Horne’s.
After winning a battle to remain in the Bundaberg Rugby League competition this year, experts have tipped last year’s strugglers to be premiership contenders.
Darby will not have to wait long to play his former club, with the two heavyweights slated to clash in round one, which takes place on April 27.