AFTER spending a season with the Queanbeyan Whites in 2010, Irish forward John Southern was always keen for another stint in Australian rugby.
So having recently completed his Sports Science degree back in Ireland, it didn’t take much convincing to see the backrower link back up with Queanbeyan this season.
And this time, the former premiership winning player has brought the cavalry with him.
In a significant boost to the Whites playing stocks, Southern has been joined by good mates and fellow forwards Darragh Kelly, Mark Rolley and Joe Bulmer.
The four will provide Queanbeyan some much needed depth with the club having been ravaged by injury over the past season and a half.
Already a familiar face around Campese Field after his time with the club two years ago, Southern said he was eager to get stuck back in for the Whites.
“Rugby in Ireland is very negative,” he said. “It’s a bit more physical and a lot slower and tighter.
“Over here [in Australia] people want to use the ball more, there seems to be bit more space so it’s more enjoyable.”
But it’s not a just different style of rugby that’s encouraged the four to travel halfway across the world.
With the economic downturn having hit Ireland particularly hard in recent years, the prospect of steady work was also major contributing factor.
“I added it up and I think I had four friends left in Ireland, everyone else has moved to Perth or Brisbane looking for a job,” Kelly said.
“I’ve just come out of college with two degrees and there’s no opportunities for work back home.”
It’s a sentiment shared by all four of the recent university graduates.
“I finished college this year and if I’d stayed in Ireland I’d have just been doing nothing much at all,” Rolley said.
“The chance to come out to Australia and play rugby and work at the same time seemed like a pretty good opportunity.”
Having arrived in Australia late last week, the group has spent the past few days sightseeing and acclimatising to conditions down under.
All four are currently lodging with club families in Queanbeyan and Bungendore with the rural surrounds having already provided plenty of their own attractions.
“I’d never seen a Kangaroo in my life and next thing I know there’s 15 in a field next to the house,” Kelly said. “Just driving out there the first time was surreal.
“We’re quite lucky to be living in a place like that.”