Despite beginning the season in sublime form, Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough is keeping his feet firmly planted on the ground as calls grow about his potential as Cameron Smith’s long-term successor for Queensland and Australia.
The 24-year-old shapes as a genuine future frontrunner to succeed Smith in the Maroons’ No.9 jersey, however only a matter of weeks ago he seemed destined for the rugby league wilderness as the rumours about Smith coming to Red Hill reached a crescendo.
“Obviously you think about those things, but at the end of the day I had a contract with the Broncos for 2014 and 2015 and all I can do is train hard and the rest will take care of itself,” McCullough said.
The Dalby Devils’ product has been scintillating so far this season, picking up man-of-the-match honours in Round 1 against the Bulldogs and topping that off with the match-winning try last week against the Cowboys.
With Sam Thaiday already taking it upon himself to appoint his teammate as understudy to Smith, McCullough is refusing to accept that inheriting the Queensland No.9 jersey in a few years’ time is a foregone conclusion.
“I don’t know about that. It’s a fair call but I just really want to play consistent footy this year,” he said.
“Like I said it has only been two games and that doesn’t get you too far.
“I’m just looking forward to the Roosters game and that will show us where we are at – they’re the benchmark.”
The Broncos have set their own defensive benchmark this season with two solid displays against the Bulldogs and Cowboys, conceding only 12 points in each match.
McCullough has been the foundation on which the Broncos are building a solid defensive platform. The Broncos rake has completed a mountain of defensive work in the first two rounds, topping the tackle count in both matches with 58 tackles apiece and playing the entire 80 minutes.
However, the question mark still remains on Brisbane’s attacking qualities, but McCullough argues that this shouldn’t matter if their defence is firing on all cylinders.
“Like a lot of teams, are attack hasn’t clicked yet,” he said. “Hopefully our attack will click soon but if we win ugly we’ll take the two points. We’ve only just had Round 2 and there’s a long way to go yet.”
McCullough revealed that he hasn’t done anything out of the ordinary in the off-season to improve his fitness regime, that’s despite the Broncos welcoming former Melbourne Storm fitness guru Alex Corvo to their ranks.
“He’s got a different style,” McCullough said. “No disrespect to our other trainers, he’s just got a few different ideas on how we want to train.
“At the end of the day it’s the playing group that want to buy into it. He sets the standards and it’s up to the group to achieve those goals that he’s set.”