Forward switch paying off for Russell
Just under 12 months ago Daniel Russell was playing on the wing for the Brisbane Broncos NYC side, unsure of his future as he approached the end of his stint in the under-20s system. Now he is lining up for Intrust Super Cup side Souths Logan as a destructive second-rower.
The 20-year-old has transformed himself from a lanky winger to an imposing forward, with coach Josh Hannay even giving Russell the responsibility of wearing the Magpies No.10 jersey in recent weeks.
Russell has had to bulk up to make the change, packing on 15kg since the end of school and 7kg since the start of the year.
The Souths Logan young gun spoke to NRL.com about his transformation, admitting that it's been a hard process making the drastic change from wing to the forwards.
"I was a winger in the under-20s for the Broncos last year," Russell said.
"I'm not the biggest guy going around. I'm tall and I've needed to fill out because Queensland Cup is one of the most physical competitions going around.
"I've just needed to prepare well during the week and stick to my game plan.
"Since I've left school I've put on about 15kg. I want to put on more but it's a slow process because it's not easy for me.
"I've accelerated my weight gain lately because my coach Josh Hannay saw me as a back rower.
"I was about 91kg at the start of pre-season this year and now I'm 98kg.
"I needed to put my foot down and get heavier if I was to secure a spot in the squad and go from wing to second row."
Russell's hard work has paid off, and the former Marist College Ashgrove student is now one of the first picked in Hannay's side each week.
Hannay, who is now in his third season with the Magpies, has been an inspiration for his young squad.
The former North Queensland Cowboy will re-join his former side in 2017 after accepting a job as an assistant coach in the NRL.
It will mean the end of his tenure as Souths Logan coach – a position he has excelled at.
"Playing under Josh is awesome," Russell said.
"He's a top bloke and he is so knowledgeable when it comes to rugby league.
"We have so much respect for him and that's why we play so well as a team.
"He puts his heart and soul into our training each week.
"When he speaks we listen because he's such an inspiration to all of us.
"We go out onto the field and fight for him and want to do him proud."
Souths Logan are doing their best to send Hannay off a winner, with the Magpies sitting in seventh and just one point outside the top six.
If Hannay's men make the finals it will cap off a great debut year for Russell in the competition.
Russell took time on Monday to reflect on the year so far, crediting his success to the Holden Cup and its ability to prepare young rugby league stars for the future.
"The NYC is a great competition," he said.
"It's given me an awesome stepping-stone into the Queensland Cup.
"The training was very full on at the Broncos but it was fantastic.
"Josh really liked the fact I'd been in that system so it's helped me a lot.
"The NYC really gave me the development I needed to make that step up."