Group 20 rugby league
THE Griffith Black and Whites have landed another big fish in the off-season transfer market, signing former England and Great Britain age international Reece Lazenby.
The 21-year-old utility is likely to feature at either fullback or in the centres for the club this season after last year playing for the Eden Tigers in Group 16.
Lazenby has a strong pedigree, having been on the cusp of a professional deal two years ago with his hometown club Hull FC in the English Super League.
Unfortunately for him, he missed the cut - so he packed his things, put his university degree on hold and decided to head Down Under for a journey designed to force maturity.
"I was that close, but I didn't make it. And I didn't know what I had until I lost it," Lazenby said.
"Once I did, I kind of realized I had to grow up.
"I thought the best way for that was to get away from home, put myself in the middle of nowhere and do everything on my own.
"It was all about growing up and becoming more of an adult, rather than than going out and doing whatever I wanted."
It's a decision Lazenby considers one of the best he's made in his life.
"I didn't want to drop down a league in England or go back and play for my amateur club," he said.
"I could have gone and played in Sydney but I said no, and my coach in Hull sent me to Eden. He said I'd grow up quicker there.
"Now I don't want to go back home, if I'm honest."
Lazenby is impressed with the quality of the Black and Whites squad he joins, even if he admits there is still "a bit of work to be done" in pre-season.
"I can see us having a good season," he said.
"If we don't make the play-offs with this squad I'll see it as a waste of a season.
"I think we might have a few new players coming down in the next few weeks as well so we should go OK."
Black and Whites president Steven Parr hailed Lazenby as a terrific capture for the club, on and off the field.
"He's not shy. He came to Australia by himself so he's got to have some guts to do that. It's a pretty amazing thing to do, actually," Parr said.
"You don't get picked for those England and Great Britain under 18s squads if you're a mug."