Cupples determined to make it big with Souths
By ADAM WRATTEN
FORMER Tweed Heads Seagull Balin Cupples has his sights set on playing NRL finals football in 2006 with the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Cupples, 23, started a new chapter in his career on Monday when he took part in his first training session with the Rabbitohs.
Buoyed by the club's strong finish this year, Cupples said his new teammates were confident they could make a big impression in next year's NRL competition and he was desperate to be a part of that.
The talented centre won't let a second chance at playing top-level football slip through his grasp after an injury-plagued stint at Wests Tigers a few years ago.
While he's got a tough job on his hands, with the Rabbitohs having several quality players who can play centre including the McDougall brothers and former Queensland player Shannon Hegarty, Cupples has set himself the target of making 8-10 first-grade appearances.
His time at the Tigers has only fuelled his desire to succeed.
Tweed footy fans know Cupples well from his time at the Seagulls in 2004, before he transferred to Burleigh for the 2005 season.
His brother Tobin still plays with Seagulls and Cupples has family living at Banora Point.
"I felt pretty good (at the first session)," Cupples said of the Rabbitohs' first pre-season training run.
"I didn't really know any of the players, but I knew their faces and I went around and introduced myself.
"With these sorts of things you get to know people pretty quickly."
He said his first day on the job started with a morning meeting, getting fitted out for training gear and then a short 40-minute ball session.
Souths players will train five times a week (Monday to Friday) in the early stages of their pre-season, with the three-hour sessions starting at 7am.
Tuesdays and Fridays look particularly hard, with tough endurance sessions to be held in the afternoons as well as the morning program.
"It's a big step up from the Queensland Cup, so I have to build up my fitness," Cupples said.
"It's great to get this second chance ... my first one (at Wests) was riddled with injuries ... and I can't wait to get out there."
Cupples relocated to Sydney last week and is staying with a mate at Mascot.