O'Hanlon finds home in Belmore
Just three games in the season, Canterbury-Bankstown second-rower Pat O'Hanlon credits new coach Des Hasler for reviving his NRL career.
The former Parramatta Eel made his debut against the Broncos early in 2011, but only played a further 19 games under three different coaches as the western Sydney club struggled mightily on the field.
But after switching to the Bulldogs in the off-season, the 23-year-old has enjoyed a new lease of life as a Bulldog, primarily playing spot minutes behind Hasler's starting second row of Tony Williams and Frank Pritchard.
"The first [three] games of the year and you never know where you might be next week, but I definitely feel I've improved as a player under Des," O'Hanlon told NRL.com
"And with the players around me and definitely with the help and support of the club, I could say my career is finally progressing, yeah."
In just three games in 2014, the towering back-rower's numbers have proven to be just as, if not more, efficient than the established pairing of Pritchard and Williams.
According to Champion Data Stats, O'Hanlon has made more hit-ups, offloads, tackles, and one-on-one tackles than his high-profile teammates in almost half as many minutes. He's also made less errors and penalties.
"At the beginning yeah, it was hard to adapt," he said. "But once you get a hang of the plays and terminology they use here, it becomes quite simple. It does seem pretty complex at the start, but I've got a good grasp of it now. Obviously we tweak it a bit every week, but it's been good.
"The best part of being here is just the style of footy they play. I've enjoyed it. It's been pretty easy just to slot in and there's a good core of players here that are really good bunch of guys."
At 195cm, O'Hanlon stands over both the 187cm-Pritchard and 192cm-Williams. But at just a meagre 93kg, the Mackay product gives away around 20kg to both his teammates. Against a floundering Sharks side in Round 2, he was given extended minutes in place of Pritchard, and flourished.
O'Hanlon said his main reason for leaving Parramatta was to thrive under the guidance of a two-time premiership-winning coach. But while he's been satisfied with his start to the season, O'Hanlon knows that with experienced campaigners Greg Eastwood and Reni Maitua returning from injury and pushing for selection, he'll have to work hard to keep his spot.
"I definitely came here for the coach. Obviously he's a pretty renowned coach, he's had a lot of success," O'Hanlon said.
"But it was an opportunity as well. I knew there were a lot of good forwards here when I came, but that just gives you an added incentive to work harder.
"So I came here, put my head down, and playing the first few games has been a bonus. I'll see where I go from here. I could be in NSW Cup next week, you never know."