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Playing for the Broncos suits Shane Rodney, though he was more at home on the back of a bull than a bucking horse as a kid in Tamworth, NSW.

However, at 15, then a resident of Penrith, he got injured riding one of the four-legged brutes. After that, his primary focus became beasts of the two-legged variety on the rugby league field. 

That’s served him well, as what’s followed is an impressive career including two Premierships, first for his hometown Panthers and then – after a spate of injuries that required surgery to his ankle, spine and both shoulders – the Manly Sea Eagles.

Just the 125 NRL games he played before signing to the London Broncos last year makes him a tough bastard compared to most.

So, when TNT asks the forward how he’s been embracing London life over the past 12 months, we expect something along the lines of wearing a West Ham shirt to Millwall games, not sipping lattes in cafes, playing golf and “hanging out on the Thames”.

So, on your Boris bike you clichés, it turns out Rodney’s off-field persona, the guy whose spare time is spent enjoying the capital with his wife Jacquie and 17-month-old son Nash (and they have another on the way), couldn’t be further from the tough nut in the Broncos’ black strip every weekend. 

“It’s a brilliant lifestyle here,” the 29-year-old says. “So different to back home. I love my coffee so we spend a lot of time in cafes, and I like to play a bit of golf with the other guys when we get a chance. Last summer there was a lot of hanging out on the Thames.

"There’s a great atmosphere when the sun comes out and everyone lines the banks, there’s nothing like it. Most time is taken up by our young bloke, which is great, and this is a top place for that.

”Rodney lobbed in London last January at the same time as fellow Aussies Michael Robertson and Chris Bailey, who he won the 2008 grand final with at Manly, and Craig Gower, captain of the Penrith side which won the 2003 premiership in his first full NRL season.

The recruits are part of owner David Hughes’ bid to enhance the Broncos’ shot at success, but despite promise he’s yet to reap the rewards of his investment – though there was a sign of things to come when they made a surge at the end of last season, which included a miraculous 62-18 thrashing of eventual grand finalists Warrington.

Rodney says his side has wins in them and that good times are coming after a few tough losses already this year. And he sees no reason why his next trophy can’t be in London.

“That first one in Penrith was funny, there were a few of us in the same boat as newcomers to first grade and we went on a run at the end of the season and got there [to beat Sydney Roosters 18-6 in the grand final],” he recalls having made his top-flight debut in round 20 of the previous year.

“It seemed so easy. You think they come all the time when it happens that quickly, but of course that’s not the reality.”

Before coming to London, Rodney sought counsel from his former skipper Gower, who was coming back to rugby league to finish his decorated career – a former NSW and Australian captain – after three years playing union in France for Bayonne and the Italian national side.

“He said there were great opportunities in London, and they were building a good squad,” Rodney says of the move he’d previously said he always wanted to make.

“Michael [Robertson] came at the same time and Chris [Bailey] was here the year before, so it’s a good environment for me. And having Craig here is great.

"His leadership is second to none. He sets an example for everyone, the young guys especially.”


Talkback


Bucks ready to bite: London Broncos enforcer Shane Rodney loves life in the Big Smoke but wants to match it on the field
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