It was never a promising season for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
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NEW Easts halfback Dane Campbell exudes confidence. Confidence marks his occupation as a salesman and also his position at the Tigers, coming to the club this season, grabbing a Premier League spot and steering his new team-mates around the park. And all this from a 21-year-old largely unknown to the Langlands Park faithful.
However Campbell has a pedigree of success. As a Colt in 2001, he led the Redcliffe Dolphins to a premiership under coach David Simpson, a former Bronco and a familiar face at Easts.
Campbell also managed two Premier League fixtures for the Fins, the club which has set the benchmark for success in the Queensland Cup.
In 2002, he was a member of the Redcliffe A grade side which lost the grand final before winning a premiership with that side last season.
"All up I played 10 Premier League matches with Redcliffe, but my move to Easts came out of the blue," he said. "I was originally thinking of playing the game in the United States this season and experiencing life a bit. "But then I got a call from a good friend in Leigh Coghill who was returning to Brisbane from Sydney to join Easts. "He said did I want to have a run at Easts, who might be looking for a half or five-eighth. "From there it's history. Boothie gave me a ring and said there was a possibility of something at the club and so far I've played all three Queensland Cup matches."
Campbell possesses a keen sense of direction of play and also an uncanny kicking game which suits a Tigers combination raring to make a mark this season.
"I'm a confident guy and want to play Premier Grade no matter which club I'm at," he said. "I just needed the opportunity to play at this level and I'm pretty confident I can do the job for the club all year."
The scrum-feeder experienced disappointment last season when he decided to try his luck in the NRL with the North Queensland Cowboys. He played a trial with the club, snaring a contract as a fulltime player with the Young Guns.
But he then could not gain a start in their Queensland Cup line-up.
"Halfway through the season I asked the club if I was going to get a run," he said. "They said they had these guys they wanted to play and I would only gain a start if there were injuries. "I went back to Redcliffe and Neil Wharton actually slotted me into the side to go up to North Queensland but I had to have an operation.
"I then played the last three games of the season in reserve grade before being a member of the winning A grade premiership side."
But back to Dane's confidence. An example of his self-belief is that he grabbed the ball in a trial for a goal kick and has not looked back. He is now the established kicker for Michael Booth's side, slotting over four from four against the Clydesdales.
"The guys here at Easts have been fantastic," he said. "I was a bit hesitant coming into a new club and how the reception would be. "It's helped that quite a few blokes are also newcomers and I know quite a few of them like Leigh and Jason Barsley from the Cowboys who are doing the same thing. "My girlfriend's brother Adam Walker also has come over and the established guys like Wade Liddell and Young have been great to deal with." A sale representative with Hart Sport, a Stafford-based sporting equipment wholesaler and supplier, Campbell travels from North Lakes on Brisbane northern outskirts to training and matches at Langlands Park. "It's a fantastic spot to live and I don't mind doing the travelling. It's not a big drama," he said.
Against Toowoomba in late March, Campbell believed the Tigers were unlucky not to continue their good run of success this season.
"The bounce of the ball told against us a couple of times with the Clydesdales," he said. "If it had gone our way we could have won the game by four points. "It was my kick that was charged down when they raced away for an 80 metre try. We could have just as easily been looking at a restart in their in-goal or a try to us."
Campbell has good news for Tigers fans as he believes this side can cement their spot in the semi-finals and challenge for the premiership.
"We know there are times when we slacken off in our game," he said. "But we have to work on rectifying that. "But we're definitely the goods to make the finals. The whole team is made up of confident bunch of blokes and it has shown from the first trial. We'll be up there with the heavyweights like Norths and Wynnum and we hold no fears taking on any side."