Brahmans bring on pair of athletic freaks
THE Whitsunday Brahmans will not lack in athleticism when they set out on their Rugby League Mackay & District A-Grade title defence.
As the rest of the competition signed off on former NRL and Super League stars, Brahmans boss Tye Ingebrigsten instead went to the southeast Queensland talent well to bring a pair of young, athletic freaks to Les Stagg Oval.
Tweed Heads Seagulls U20s duo Harley Wood and Gerard Akavi-Ahnau will bring with them a terrifying one-two combination that terrorised many a defensive edge in the Queensland Cup Colts competition last season.
"Last year he was my winger and I was at centre - hopefully we can bring that combination to the Mackay comp," Akavi-Ahnau said.
Roommates Wood and Akavi-Ahnau met for the first time when the former swapped from Burleigh Bears to the Seagulls, but the pair quickly discovered they had more than rugby league in common.
"We both have athletics backgrounds. He was a (national) discus champion and I was an Australian high jump champion," Wood said.
Wood will join the Brahmans as an outside back, and the leaping ability he honed on the track will be put to good use under the high ball.
At 6 foot 1 and 114kg, Akavi-Ahnau can play anywhere from second row, lock or on the edge.
"He's like a Konrad Hurrell-type," Wood said of the New Zealand native.
"Really powerful and has decent speed."
The talented twosome will pack up their Gold Coast pad and begin the 13-hour drive to Proserpine today.
After a handful of seasons in the Queensland Cup Colts, Wood said he and Akavi-Ahnau saw the Brahmans as the perfect launching pad for a potential Intrust Super Cup berth.
" (Ingebrigsten) said there's a lot of opportunities to push for Cup this year, which is my main focus," he said.
"He got hold of me the other day asking if I wanted to move up. It was pretty spontaneous. I made my mind up overnight."
Wood is a one-time junior NSW representative and got a taste of first grade footy at the Currumbin Eagles as a 17 year old.
Akavi-Ahnau played rugby union for much of his life, but made the swap when he left New Zealand for Australian shores in 2017.
The Brahmans host Souths in a pre-season trial at Les Stagg Oval this weekend.
Wood welcomed the prospect of lining up opposite former Kiwi international and new Souths recruit, Kevin Locke.
"Playing against ex-NRL players will be a great experience," he said.
"It shows you what level you have to be at to crack the NRL.
"Although Kevin has been out of the game for a while, he's probably still a freak."