It was never a promising season for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
Matthew Gallagher looks at h...
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DUANE O'Grady provides the perfect example of local boy made good. Within three seasons, the second-rower has transformed himself from a triallist to a full-fledged member of the Dolphins Premier League squad. The 23-year-old Redcliffe junior has bypassed the usual track of junior development squads and elite Colts football to force his way into the top-level Queensland Cup. "I was born and bred in Redcliffe and played from under sevens to under 10s at Burpengary before coming over to the Redcliffe juniors," O'Grady said. "I then had a couple of years off before I ended up at Arlie Beach when I was 19 and spent a season and a half in the Whitsunday competition." O'Grady then returned to the Peninsula to start an apprenticeship as a refrigeration mechanic. The demand of his job meant an absence from football, but in his third year he could not ignore the bug any more and pulled on his boots. "I went along to an open trial on the recommendation of Darren Smallhorn and also from my father and pop, who also both played for Redcliffe. My dad John played Colts and Morrie has been around the club for a long time." O'Grady forced his way into coach Bertie Campbell's A grade side in 2003, winning a premiership and then making the semi-finals last season. "I came to the club as a centre and got put on the wing, but now I'm a second-rower," he said. "There are more opportunities in that position and last year I spent the entire season in the forwards. "It suits my game better to be there as I like to try and hurt in my tackles. I'm certainly more of a defensive player, even though at 96 kilos I'm a bit light for a second-rower." O'Grady's defensive capabilities have not been overlooked by new Premier league coach Anthony Griffin, who looks to rebuild a side decimated by off-season transfers and retirements. O'Grady turned out in both pre-season trials against Burleigh and Souths-Logan, although his spot will become one of the hardest-fought in the club. Rivals include long-serving backrower Danny Burke, Danny Green (recovering from a shoulder operation), Grant Flugge (suspended for the opening two matches), Shannon Fish, Gerard Parle and even Troy Lindsay. "I enjoyed the trials very much," he said. "They were nice and quick, but I loved playing in them. "There's plenty of competition and that helps you play better footy." O'Grady's plan is to retain his spot in the Premier League squad throughout the season. "I don't care if I'm in the run-on side or on the bench. Premier grade is premier grade. There's not much difference in what number you are named in." O'Grady's impressions of new coach Griffin have been favourable. "He is a man of few words but what he wants to get across he gets across," he said. As for the future, O'Grady is still working as a refrigeration mechanic and has bought a house at Scarborough so his off-field situation is stable. Now all he needs is playing time in the top side.