Broncos hooker Jake Turpin says while it was sad to see Andrew McCullough depart, the chance to make the Brisbane No.9 jersey his own after an injury-ruined 2020 season has him excited for footy to start.
The 24-year-old looked the next long-term option after a breakout 2019 season and McCullough's departure to the Knights.
Three rounds into last season those plans went out the window when he suffered a fractured tibia and missed the next eight games, and injury struck again when a fractured hand kept him out of the last six games.
McCullough then returned briefly to the club during the off-season before taking up a long-term deal at the Dragons, paving the way for Turpin to make the position his own in 2021.
"Macca had to do what he had to do for his family and his future and as sad as it was to see I'm very excited to step up there, take that role and make it mine," the Ipswich Brothers junior told NRL.com.
"I got given that jersey the last couple of years. Now it's mine I want to put every foot forward I can."
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This Saturday's Redcliffe trial against the Cowboys will be Turpin's first hit-out since round 15, and gives him a chance to resume building on-field combinations with fullback Jamayne Isaako and halfback Tom Dearden.
Brodie Croft will fill in for Anthony Milford (broken hand), though Milford is expected to be fit for round one.
"This will be my first game for a while too with all my injuries last year," Turpin added.
"I think Jamayne will get first crack [at fullback], he's been training there all pre-season. He's a very exciting player when he's on. He's very skilful and he's a real good runner of the ball.
"With our halves, Milly and Tommy Dearden are the two at the moment then you've got Crofty, too. We're in a good spot with our halves, we've got some really good players there, they're excited to play the trials and into round one.
"You look at our team, we have some skilful and exciting players, some players that have been around even though it's a very young team, they've been playing NRL for a few seasons now so they know what it's all about.
"It's time to stop the talk, we'll go out there and show what we can do because the last two years haven't been the best but we're excited to get out there.
"Everyone's keen to get out there and put together what we've learned with our new coach."
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Turpin was full of praise for Kevin Walters, who he said had refreshed the group after a troubled 2020 campaign that finished with the wooden spoon.
"The year we had last year we probably needed a refreshing thing to scrap last year and bring the new year round," he said.
"There's no better way of doing it than with a new coach I guess. Kevvie's fun to be around too, which is really good.
"He's brought that winning culture to the club, which is where such a big powerhouse club should be at so we're pretty excited to kick the season off."