Bill Cullen settling in to Canberra life
RUGBY LEAGUE: He's been down there for only a little over three weeks but Calliope Roosters product Bill Cullen has already settled in to life in Canberra.
Signed by NRL club Canberra Raiders last month and currently playing for NSW Cup affiliate Mounties, the former CQ Capras forward has not let the bone-chilling Canberra winter stop him from retaining his central Queensland lifestyle.
"I've been put in with a family down here and all the boys and staff have been really welcoming so it's been a pretty easy transition,” Cullen said.
"It's pretty easy to get around; there's not too much traffic and it's pretty spread out. I've gone for a few games of golf and went for a fish the other day; I didn't catch any though unfortunately.”
Cullen has played two games for Mounties since his move to the nation's capital, churning out 72 minutes during his latest stint against St George Illawarra on July 1.
He trains with the full Raiders squad during the early stages of the week before the NRL and NSW Cup squads break off into separate groups leading into the weekend.
He is contracted until the end of the season, and Canberra has the option to sign him for next year, making the next couple of months crucial for the 21-year-old's NRL prospects.
And Canberra coach Ricky Stuart had some simple advice for the versatile forward.
Cullen said: "I've had a few discussions with him about doing the little things right, ripping in while I'm here and putting my best foot forward.
"There's obviously some qualities there which they like in me, but also some stuff I need to work on - knowing the right time to come up with a big hit, being effective in my tackles and making sure I'm winning most of them, finding my front when running the ball.
"It's stuff that I do well at the moment, but instead of being at 70%I want to take it up to that 90 to 95% mark and fine-tune everything I'm doing.”
Canberra's goal is to transform Cullen into a middle player who can also fill in on the edges.
"They see me as a middle player that can cover second row if needed,” Cullen said.
"So if I'm playing in the middle you're looking at two 20 to 25-minute stints, but if you're playing on an edge I'd love to turn into an 80-minute player.
"Hopefully if I get the opp- ortunity to do a pre-season down here, that will become a lot more likely as a goal.
"For the rest of this year I've just got to rip in and hopefully raise a few eyebrows.”
Cullen also praised the professional at the Raiders, who had further fuelled his hunger to earn a contract beyond 2017.
"I'm really enjoying it down here and the club is great,” he said.
"The whole organisation seems to be very well run and having Ricky at the top.
"The way that he talks to the team and the staff is just up above what I've ever been a part of.
"It's been a great experience so far and I've learnt a lot of small things which you don't get to learn at a lower level.”