By BOB ANTHONY
JASON Bell knows he faces a huge challenge when to comes to rugby league.
As the new senior coach of the Cudgen Hornets, Bell has just on four weeks to bring a side together for the start of the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League season.
Since a split which saw the majority of last year's premiership winning team head north to play in the Gold Coast Rugby League competition, Bell has answered the call from Cudgen and is in the throws of forming senior grades in time for their opening Northern League match against Murwillumbah on April 15.
For Bell, who runs his own blinds and security screens business on the Tweed Coast, it's a chance to get back involved with rugby league since leaving the game several years ago.
He is a league journeyman, having played with Parramatta from 1988 to '92, spending a year with North Sydney in '93, playing with South Sydney from '94 to '96 before returning to the Eels from '97 to 2000.
He then spent a year with Auckland in 2001 before hanging up the boots.
Now with Cudgen Bell is looking forward to the challenge ahead.
"It's going to be a learning curve for everyone involved, including the players and myself," Bell said yesterday.
"Not only will our players have to get to know each other on and off the field but I will also be learning as I go from a coaching point of view.
"It's something that I have wanted to do since I stopped playing and I am grateful to Cudegn for giving me this opportunity."
However Bell has expressed a desire to take to the field himself - "it just depends how my old legs hold up".
Bell acknowledges he is facing a huge task in getting his side into a cohesive unit but said it was more important to lay the foundation for the future this season.
"We have been able to slowly build our numbers at training each week which is encouraging and are waiting to hear from several more players, particularly some blokes who are trialling with other clubs," Bell said.
"Hopefully we will have some more young players coming on board in the near future and together with some experienced players we can build a competitive team."
Bell said the priority for the club was to build up A and reserve grades but was hopeful they would have enough players for a future under 18 side.
With only two weeks to go before their first trial against Mullumbimby at Cudgen on April 1, Bell said the training sessions would concentrate on ball skills and developing combinations.
"The players will have to be responsible for their own fitness because we simply don't have time to work that into our training sessions. In our situation, building familiarity among the players is crucial," he said.