Rob Willis, Sharks.com.au, NRL
Off season recruit Beau Ryan arrived at the Sharks during the first week of November with an unavoidable reputation as something of a joker due to his regular comedy segments on the Channel 9 Footy Show.
Rated a big ‘television talent’ but those with knowledge about those sorts of things, Ryan’s new teammates may have been waiting for him to deliver a series of comedic routines in and around the pre-season training sessions.
While his effervescent personality certainly ensured he fit straight into the scheme of things at the Sutherland Shire club, Ryan has impressed many, coach Shane Flanagan included, with his athletic ability and with his work ethic rather than with his quick wit.
“Beau is a good athlete, he is very fit and he has certainly trained well in his first couple of weeks here at the Sharks,” Flanagan said.
In week one, when fitness and strength testing was included in the schedule, Ryan excelled in winning the Sharks version of the ‘beep test’, doing so by a decent margin. The 300-metre run, again he was out in front, while Ryan has also led the way in the torturous conditioning sessions.
But to those who have played with him, and there are now a handful of 2013 Sharks who fall under that banner, none of what has gone on with Beau Ryan in just a few short weeks would surprise any of them.
When the Sharks asked him to assist with a promotional membership video Ryan put away the funny-man and unveiled a player determined to win over his new fans with his on-field exploits in 2013.
“It was a place I dreaded having to come,” Ryan said of Toyota Stadium and of playing the Sharks. “Every time we used to play Cronulla it was always a tough game, they were always big and strong.
“And there was always a group of fans on the hill, guys who were very vocal and I can’t wait to play for those guys in front of a packed Shark Park. I can’t wait to run out and have them behind us,” Ryan added.
Indications are that Sharks fans are right behind Beau, with membership renewals up 150 per cent from the same time last year. It seems members and fans can’t wait to see their Cronulla side run out at Toyota Stadium with a team containing Ryan and his fellow new Sharks recruits Chris Heighington, Luke Lewis, Michael Gordon and Jonathan Wright.
The first task for the Sharks ‘front office’ is to provide Ryan and his teammates with that packed house of vocal fans and with the optimistic, but very much achievable push for 10,000 members, that goal is very much on track.
With the early membership figures showing promise and with the excitement surrounding the 2013 team, featuring a squad complete with a batch of quality recruits, the fans have every reason to believe the upcoming season could deliver something very special.