Broncos Spring Surprise With Squad

Former Queensland State of Origin player Adrian Vowles was a surprise face at the Brisbane Broncos first official training session today.

A feared defender, Vowles played 68 games for the Gold Coast and North Queensland between 1993-96 before stints with Bradford, Wakefield, Castleford and Leeds in the English Super League.

During his time in the UK he earned Super League's ultimate individual honour when voted Britain's Man of Steel in 1999.

At 32, his chances of resurrecting his NRL career would,nt appear great but he is willing to give it a shot.

Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett was one of the first people Vowles contacted when he returned home.

He called Bennett and asked if he could "have a run" with the Broncos and Bennett told to turn up for training.

Vowles was still playing in England a few months ago, signed by Castleford on a short-term to help his former club push their Super League play-off claims. Vowles wasn't the only new face to attract attention today with hulking 115kg Tamworth teenager Tom Learoyd taking over Kangaroo prop Shane Webcke's mantle as the Broncos' heaviest player.

A school high jump champion and track sprinter at Farrar College, Tamworth, where he clocked 11.2sec for 100m, Learoyd, a two-time Australian Schoolboy, first played open schoolboy rugby league at the age of 15.

He played NSW Under 19s this season. Learoy was first spotted as a 13 year-old by Brisbane talent scout Cyril Connell and put on a scholarship as soon as he turned 15.

Several Sydney clubs showed an interest in Learoyd but the thought of living in a big city scared the youngster who feels much more at home living in Brisbane.

The chance to be coached by Bennett was the other big factor in his decision.

Brisbane skipper Gorden Tallis welcomed him with a few lines from the song "Bad, bad Leroy Brown", including calling him a "junk yard dog" but apart from that he hadn't copped too much from his new teammates.

"A few have had a crack at me, but nothing serious," he said.

Kiwi signing Motu Tony arrived too late for today's first-up session.