IF the NSW Country Cockatoos camp is anything to go by, Maitland fullback Chris Logan can’t wait for the real deal.
Logan is the only Newcastle and Hunter player in the 23-man Cockatoos squad to take on ACT Provincial in Camden on Sunday, June 17.
From Balina, where he played rugby league, Logan moved to Maitland in 2011. After a pre-season at Kurri Kurri, he switched to the Blacks and has since called Marcellin Park home, bar a season at Nelson Bay and two off-seasons in Scotland at Edinburgh.
But until now, the tackle-busting custodian has not had a taste of the Country program.
“The Country camp in Singleton was the best thing I have been involved in to date in my career,” the 29-year-old said. “You would have thought you had played two years of rugby with all of them. They do a great job of getting you together and mixing. I can’t wait for the first game. I set making Country as a goal at the start of the year and want to make a strong first impression.”
Logan, overlooked for the Newcastle side to compete at the Country Championship, was offered a second chance with an under-manned Mid North Coast.
“It was very weird playing for a different zone but it only fuelled my desire to do well,” he said. “The Mid North Coast boys were unreal, they made me and Patty Keen (Walcha) feel very welcome. We lost both games pretty comprehensively but it was a good experience.”
Logan, with his eye on the Country No.15 jumper, worked overtime in the pre-season.
“Moving back to 15 last season, I hadn’t planned or prepared for that in the previous pre-season,” he said. “I had intended to play 13 and was a lot bigger, muscle and weight wise. I was a bit heavy for 15 last year. When I knew I would be playing there again, I did a lot of speed stuff. I lost about five kilograms, got smaller and faster, and developed my ball-playing. I tried to make myself a second No.10 really.”
The added responsibility of the captaincy at Maitland, which he took on last year, also contributed to the increased work ethic.
“I am loving the role,” he said. “It has definitely changed the way I approach training. I wasn’t a bad trainer but you really step it up, knowing everyone expects you to set the standard.”
As well as lead the Blacks, Logan has been instrumental in luring boom back-rower Travis Brooke, who he played alongside in Scotland, and Carl Manu to Marcellin Park.
“I met Carl when we played in the centres together for the Newcastle Barbarians in 2015,” Logan said. “We struck up a friendship and when I heard that Waratahs were going to drop back to first division, I was pretty quick on the phone.”
“He is a good footballer but it is more his direction. He is just a winner, he knows how to get things done and what the team needs at the right time. He has been awesome for the young blokes as well. They know he is and know what he has done. They follow him around like the Pied Piper at training.”
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