BANDON’S quest for the Munster Junior League Division 1 title continues this weekend as they take on Abbeyfeale at Old Chapel on Sunday (2.30pm).
Having beaten Clanwilliam 17-13 last weekend, the Munster Junior Cup holders are a point behind leaders Richmond and a point ahead of Kilfeacle and District with Clonmel a point further back, making for an interesting battle as spring progresses.
Bandon are aided in their quest with some Antipodean angel-dust, with New Zealander Conall Bromwich having played a key role for them this season, scoring two tries in last weekend’s win against Clanwilliam.
The 28-year-old Auckland native has been living in Bandon since he moved to Ireland in September, having most recently played for Karaka and then Ardmore-Marist. The germ of an idea began to develop and, seeking to embrace the challenge, he was delighted to travel north.
‘I linked up with Bandon before I came over,’ he says.
‘I had been brought into contact with them, Keith Fuller was my point of contact through a guy called Mark Wilson and we started chatting and it went from there. They said what they wanted to achieve and what they were looking for, it went that way.
‘It was a big step into the deep for me, I didn’t know anyone over here.
‘I enjoy things like that, get out of the comfort zone and chucked in the deep end to see if I can swim, that kind of thing.’
There are certainly differences in how the game is played in the northern hemisphere compared to the southern hemisphere. For Bromich, used to the faster-moving mode of play back home, as well as having been exposed to a lot of sevens, it has meant having to tailor his approach
‘There’s a lot more free-flowing football back home,’ he says, ‘keeping the ball moving.
‘It hasn’t been too difficult to change my game, you’ve just got to watch it and adapt.
‘I come from a sevens background, I’ve played a lot of that and that’s quite different to 15-a-side so I’m used to adapting.
‘You’ve just got to come and see and adjust your game and how you’re going to play, in a way that suits you and the team.’
The marriage has by and large been a happy one, with Richmond’s only defeat having been when Bandon went there and beat them, while Kilfeacle and District were also beaten.
There have been some moments to forget, such as the loss to Kanturk in the Cork County Cup and the 29-3 home defeat against Skibbereen in the league, but Bromwich believes that 2018 will continue to provide more evidence of the team clicking.
‘There were a couple of upsets and times when things haven’t gone our way,’ he says.
‘As a team, we’ve come a long way and everyone’s pretty much close right now, we’re bonding well and are getting to know each other’s games that bit better.
‘It was a bit hard at the start of the season but it’s good now.’
Bromwich has also found himself having to adapt to the Irish way of things off the field, in his line of work in the construction industry. Arguably, it has been even more of a change than on the rugby pitch.
‘The basics are pretty similar,’ he says, ‘but there are quite a few differences and that takes a bit of getting used to.
‘You learn every day and it’s good to be in a new scenario like this.
‘All of the concrete and brick-work here is different, back home the majority of the houses are timber-frame.
‘It’s a lot more concrete and steel here and slating was a new experience for me as I had never done that before!
‘It was something to get used to but I think I’ve got the hang of it now and things are going pretty good.’
And then of course there’s the disparity in the weather conditions compared to Auckland.
‘It was a bit of a shock to the system at first,’ Bromwich says, ‘it was spring back home, just coming into summer, when I arrived here, so it was tough to leave that behind and head into another winter.
‘The body wasn’t too happy but I’ve gotten used to it now. I still do get a little depressed when I hear stories from home or I’m sent a picture and it’s 27 degrees back home!
‘It’s not too bad, I enjoy it.’
He’ll certainly continue to enjoy it as Bandon rack up the wins and stay in the hunt for the league. Beyond that, it’s something of a blank canvas.
‘I’m taking it as it comes,’ he says. ‘I haven’t thought of anything past this season. I’ll probably get back for a visit to see my family at the end of the season and see how things go after that.’