James Curgenven back for second crack at Group Nine

James Curgenven has returned for a second stint in Group Nine after signing on with Gundagai for 2018.

James Curgenven has returned for a second stint in Group Nine after signing on with Gundagai for 2018.

His first venture into rugby league did not last long, but James Curgenven is determined to give Group Nine another shot.

Curgenven has signed with Gundagai after splitting his time between Tumut and Southern Inland club Wagga City last season.

After three years with the Boiled Lollies since moving to Australia, the Englishman left to play rugby league for the first time.

However he only lasted seven games before moving back to rugby union in June.

The 33-year-old missed Wagga City’s last two finals after being involved in a minor car accident, but is ready for another crack at rugby league.

“I wasn’t able to transition as well I would have liked to at Tumut,” Curgenven said.

“Not because of anything to do with the club, but just personally with work, but this year I’m going to be able to commit a lot better and thought I would go and give it another try.”

Curgenven wasn’t thinking of making a return to league before Gundagai showed some interest.

Travel was the main reason behind his stint with Tumut ending, but with plenty of new teammates also travelling over from Wagga the pressure should be eased.

Gundagai captain-coach James Smart is confident the Tigers will be a better fit than what the Blues were.

“It is a team who has been together for quite a while and there is not going to be a whole lot of change in playing personnel for next year so that should make the transition more comfortable for him,” Smart said.

Smart expects Curgenven will be the grand finalist’s lone signing of the off-season.

They have had little turnover since losing to grand final to Southcity with only star fullback Dane O’Hehir and interchange utility Joey Rose expected to leave.

He is unsure of what role the English playmaker will have in the team.

“It’s undecided at the moment,” Smart said.

“He can play in a lot of different positions in the back line so there are a few options on the table at the moment.

“We will wait and see how things go in the pre-season and during the trial.”

Curgenven isn’t sure where he’s best suited in either game.

He just wants to focus on making sure he is fit enough for the 13-man code before looking too far ahead.

“Last year I probably underestimated the difference between union and league,” Curgenven said.

“I thought it would be a lot easier to transition over but only training once a week in Tumut it wasn’t working as well as it could have.

“It (league) is a completely different beast.

“The contact, the physicality and the pure fitness of league is a lot higher.

“I was a fullback in union so I didn’t have to do all the ruck work, which is obviously pretty taxing, but I found going into contact 10 metres from each other really tests your body.

“Also the fitness side of it and having to run backwards 10 metres after every tackle, where as in union you can rest a little bit.

“I was fit at Tumut but I wasn’t as fit as I would like to be so that is something I am definitely going to improve this year.”