Gidley's praise for Broncos recruit
Former Warrington skipper and Newcastle Knights legend Kurt Gidley believes Brisbane Broncos recruit Andre Savelio has the physical gifts required to make an impression in the NRL but admits the English back-rower will need time to adjust.
The son of Lokeni Savelio, who represented Western Samoa before moving to the UK where he played for the likes of Salford, Halifax and Widnes, Savelio begins his first full week as a Bronco determined to prove he has what it takes to bust into Brisbane's best 17 in 2018.
Broncos officials first tried to lure Savelio to Australia three years ago as a 19-year-old but after having to bide their time are now confident he can make an impact once he adjusts to the speed and physicality of the game in Australia.
After coming through the ranks at St Helens the now 22-year-old spent this season at Warrington where he scored nine tries in 26 appearances and topped the Wolves in tackle busts with 52, impressing Gidley with his strength in the gym and on the field.
"He's a pretty quiet fella but physically strong carrying the ball. He'll be interesting to watch over the pre-season and will be one to keep an eye on," Gidley told NRL.com.
"He probably hasn't got the natural aggressive size that some guys have – that's just not his nature, he's not an aggressive person – but he's physically strong and got good footwork and a strong fend.
"He's probably not someone known for hitting a hole as such but more getting the ball early and putting some footwork on and challenging blokes physically.
"It will be a work in progress I'd say. I wouldn't expect him to come straight from Super League – and I'd imagine there are a few blokes to jump in front of at the Broncos – but as far as physical strength, he's extremely strong in the gym and carrying the ball.
"He's got a big fend and is tough to put down."
A Broncos fan from a young age, Savelio has always maintained a keen interest in the goings on in the NRL, more so than any other player in the Wolves set-up, according to Gidley.
"At Warrington, he knew more about the NRL than any other player," said Gidley who will this weekend line up for the Knights one more time in the Legends of League Carnival on the Central Coast to raise money for the Mark Hughes Foundation.
"He watches more of the NRL and knows all about every player and club more than any of my teammates at Warrington did.
"He lives and breathes it and for him to get an opportunity I think he'd be proud of it, but he'd know that he has to work hard if he genuinely wants to become a first grader.
"The whole challenge of coming to the NRL and having to prove himself at the Broncos to start with will be good for him."
With Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett currently in camp with the England team Savelio is doing his best to impress assistant coaches Jason Demetriou and Kevin Walters but said after his first training session last week that his desire to prove himself in the NRL is now stronger than ever.
"I wouldn't have come here if I didn't think I could play. That is the hope, to train hard and hopefully Wayne (Bennett) can see that and I get the chance," Savelio said.
"Everyone says this is the best competition in the world, and it definitely is.
"This is the team I always supported in the NRL, the team I always watched and I'm grateful to be here.
"That's the dream, to hopefully get a start first and go from there."