Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
THE Emerald Group Dolphins have replaced one big man with another just as impressive. Giant prop Adam Starr retired after the Dolphins' Queensland Cup grand final victory. Weeks later former NRL forward Mark Tookey was on the club's books. Ironically, Tookey had played against Starr during Starr's time with the Wests Tigers and in the Super Leagues against Deon Bird, another expat to be joining the Dolphins this season. Tookey arrived back in Australia in late September after "a two and a bit season" stint with the London Harlequins in the Super League. He and his wife are both from Brisbane and after signing a two-year deal with the Dolphin, he now just needs to decide on where to live with their two young daughters, Sarah, 3, and Chloe, 1. "We are staying with the in-laws at the moment in Logan City, but my wife will be working as a nurse at the Prince Charles Hospital so we have to look at our options," he said. "We are still sussing out whether to buy on the northside near the hospital or near our families. We are weighing up the pros and cons. "It was certainly different living in London but a bit tough with young kids. If you were single it would be great as it's the gateway to Europe." Tookey enjoyed his time on the field, although he believes the Super League is a two-tiered competition with the top four or five sides a mile beyond the lower ranked clubs. "The top- sides are going great guns but the others are pushing a bit uphill," he said. Tookey arrives at Dolphin Oval with a wealth of NRL experience behind him after stints at the South Queensland Crushers, Parramatta and Auckland Warriors. "But funnily enough I have never played in the Queensland Cup," he said. "I went straight from Springwood to the Crushers, although there was a lot of Redcliffe influence at the Crushers with Steve Bleakley, Paul Bunn, Tosser Turner, Peter Murphy all there as well as a heap of former Redcliffe players such as Paul Woodward, Danny Nutley and Clinton O'Brien. "Gary O'Brien, who is assistant coach at Redcliffe, also was one of the coaches at the Crushers. "I played against Redcliffe sides in the juniors but I've always watched the Queensland Cup and am quite familiar with a lot of the players such as Troy Lindsay and Michael Roberts. I do know Mark Shipway from his time in Britain." Tookey, 29, had told his manager at the end of the latest Super League season that he wanted to return to Australia and matters went from there. There was quite a bit of interest from Queensland Cup consortiums, however his desire to be in Brisbane narrowed down options. "I was not ready to finish my footy," he said. "The decision on which club to join was up to me and my family. "But the chance to win a premiership helped sway things as the Dolphins certainly have been the best team in the comp over the past 10 years. At the end of the two seasons we'll see where we are at." A cult figure during his time with the Crushers, Tookey has deceptive speed for such a big unit and also has developed his offloading skills over the seasons. Weighing in at more than 115 kilograms, he will provide muscle against opposition teams keen to test Redcliffe's premiership pack. "I'm really looking forward to the season," Tookey said. "It's going to be good. I've got the training schedule and attended a team meeting where everything was outlined for the season ahead. It's only a month until Christmas and we will be getting stuck into the work."