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Gardner Signs Up
REDCLIFFE coach Anthony Griffin was instrumental in the Melbourne Storm signing Pat Gardner as a teenager.
So it's ironic that Gardner lines up with the Dolphins this season even though Griffin had moved to Melbourne as Gardner arrived at Bishop Park to start football life as a Norths devil.
"When I was with Norths I received a tip-off from our scout in Cairns," Griffin said.
"The player he was praising was Pat, who as an 18-year-old was playing with the Cairns Cyclones in the state League. We signed him but as he arrived I went to Melbourne to coach.
"Pat has been with Norths first grade for the past four seasons and he has been a shandy away from playing NRL.
"We're lucky to have him here with us. He still harbours ambitions of playing NRL, but if that doesn't happen he would be perfect to be one of our frontline props when Adam Starr and Troy Lindsay call it a day.
"Pat is a great acquisition for our club because he has the size, experience of 60-70 starts in the Cup and is only 24.
"We're lucky that we have a number of established props in Clint Fraser. Damien Jentz and Darren Glase from Souths Logan who should figure this season. They are all in their early to mid 20s and have all the right attributes.
"And we have a prop coming through from Colts in Brad Massey who shows a bit."
Gardner hails from Innisfail in North Queensland, the same hometown as Billy Slater, but Pat plays the game in a far different manner to the fleet-footed fullback.
A tough no-nonsense prop who tops 108 kilograms, he did the pre-season with Storm's top squad last year and impressed coach Craig Bellamy with his work ethic.
Gardner will spend a week this pre-season at the Broncos as topline Dolphins are rotated through their training program.
Redcliffe skipper Shane Perry is an exception as he has been training with the Brisbane side since before Christmas with injury clouds over Brett Seymour and Darren Lockyer.
The Broncos have handed on a handy acquisition to Redcliffe in young Kiwi outside back Kaine Manihera. He came across the Tasman at the end of last season after starring with the Canterbury Bulls in the tough Bartercard Cup.