New Red Hegarty grips his chance
New Reds signing Bryce Hegarty is determined to end his days as a backline nomad by grabbing the full-time fullback role forfeited by Karmichael Hunt.
Hegarty's appearance at Reds training at Ballymore for the first time on Monday was a virtual player swap with Hunt being unveiled as a NSW Waratah at the same time.
When Hunt torpedoed his own 2018 Super Rugby season with an off-field incident before it started, the Reds were forced into four Plan B moves at fullback last year.
Playing Aidan Toua, in nine games, Jono Lance, Hamish Stewart and Jayden Ngamanu at No. 15 never nailed the full mix of sharp attack, solid kicking and playmaking from the back.
Toua will be bidding for the No. 15 jersey again but Hegarty, 26, has the package to make it his own and he's thinking that way.
"Being able to cover No. 10 is a string to the bow I don't want to lose but I really want to focus on playing fullback," Hegarty said.
"I want to crack the mould of the Mr Fix-It utility, perform well at No. 15 and influence play from there."
Hegarty was quickly reminded of the humid 8am heat of Brisbane at training but his zeal for being home was obvious after three seasons apiece with the Melbourne Rebels and Waratahs.
"I'm on the right side of the border and so eager to get cracking here after the Waratahs were really good in granting me a release," Hegarty said.
Hegarty was picked up by the Rebels at 19 from the Brisbane Broncos under-20s program where now-Wallaby Caleb Timu and North Queensland Cowboys signing Josh McGuire were teammates.
He grew up playing rugby league for the Samford Stags but his rugby education at Marist College Ashgrove grooved his adaptability to play both codes.
He can kick.
It's worth stating the key fact as simply as that because the donkey in the back paddock had more aplomb when the Reds announced their formative squad late last year.
"I've learnt a fair bit at the Broncos, with my previous Super Rugby clubs and playing with guys like Kurtley Beale, Izzy (Folau) and Bernard Foley so I feel I can really add something to a good, young, enthusiastic bunch here at the Reds," Hegarty said.
Hegarty only finished his Japanese season with Ricoh Black Rams last Saturday but is ready to dive straight into the February 1 trial against the Rebels in Ballarat.
The Reds have completed their roster by signing outside back Jack Hardy, the 19-year-old son of former Wallaby Mitch, and 130kg prop Feao Fotuaika.
The Reds will host their fan day at Ballymore on February 3 before a final Ballymore trial against the Chiefs on February 8.
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