By Colleen Edwards / QRL Content Producer
A new start and a fresh challenge was all the convincing it took to get 2021 premiership winner Bernard Gregorius to sign up with the Brisbane Tigers for the upcoming season.
Someone who has travelled the world with the game, Gregorius is always one to test himself and was impressed with the vision he was presented with by the Tigers and has been encouraged by the hard work the squad have been putting in during pre-season.
“I had the opportunity to speak with JB (coach Jon Buchanan) and I just found what they were trying to build was something that really pulled me towards them… it was something that I was very interested in,” Gregorius said.
“Other than that, just a bit of a change, I guess.
“(Pre-season has) been good, we’ve had a really good group going through the whole pre-season, so it’s been tough – like I am sure most pre-seasons are – but it’s been really good the way the group has gotten together, it’s been a real atmosphere of challenge and getting better as well, so it’s been good.”
As part of the 2021 Cup-winning Norths Devils side, the talented centre has plenty of knowledge and experience to share with his new playing group, but said the main keys to success were also the most simple to put into place.
“I think getting in the spirit of always perfecting your craft, I think that is something that I really pulled from my time Norths,” Gregorius said.
“What we did at Norths was that everyone was always working on getting better and better and better, even at the most basic things and I think that is what the younger players need to do… really focus on getting the basics right, working really hard on that and the rest will keep coming as we go on.
“It sounds really boring and it sounds cliché, but I guess clichés come from truth, but it’s worked for me and it’s worked over and over again.”
Gregorius grew up playing rugby union in Wellington, New Zealand, before finding his feet in rugby league at Upper Hutt Tigers and moved to Australia on a contract with the Newcastle Knights. On his way to Brisbane, he detoured to play the game in France, adding another perspective to his game.
With France recently being announced as the venue for the 2025 Rugby League World Cup, Gregorius, who played with FC Lézignan while in the country, said it was good signs for the game going forward.
“France was amazing… if you can go, definitely go. It’s a beautiful culture. I guess the love of rugby league, it’s a small sport over there, but the passion that they have is unbelievable,” Gregorius said.
“They absolutely love it over there and it’s amazing to be able to come and have that shared between cultures and just have that shared passion for rugby league is pretty priceless.
“I have a lot of friends over there, my partner is actually French, I met her while I was over there and she’s here with me, so I am always in touch with people over there and can’t wait to go back.”
With the Hostplus Cup pre-season now in full swing, Gregorius, who overcame a significant injury setback to be part of his title-winning season last year, said he was looking forward to the challenge ahead.
“(The younger players have been) really good, they are really challenging all the older players (at training), which is really good to bring that competitive spirit to the team, you really need that in a team,” Gregorius said.
“Having those young guys pushing for their spots – I am sure they will get their opportunity – really means that everyone has to up their game.”
The Tigers will start their 2022 season against Tweed Seagulls next month.
Brisbane Tigers 2022 gains and losses
Gains: Blake Barbuto (St George Illawarra Dragons), Gerard Beale (St George Illawarra Dragons), BJ Aufaga-Toomaga (Sunshine Coast Falcons), George Fai (rugby union), Darius Farmer (Gold Coast Titans), Bernard Gregorius (Norths Devils), Wesley Lolo (North Sydney Bears), Alec MacDonald (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), Dray Ngatuere-Wroe (Souths Logan Magpies), Tony Pellow (St George Illawarra Dragons), Bacho Salam (Townsville Blackhawks), Lucky Taavale (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), Vito Tevaga (Penrith Panthers), Francis Kalisolaite-Tualau (Wynnum Manly Seagulls)
Losses: Luke Dolbol (Bulimba Bulldogs), Sam Elliott (retired), Frank Kuresa (Ryde Eastwood Hawks), Sam Lavea (Norths Devils), Jack Peoples (rugby union), Kea Pere (Burleigh Bears), Linc Port (released), Hugh Pratt (retired), Michael Purcell (Bulimba Bulldogs), Ioane Seiuli (Tweed Seagulls)