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Home is where the heart is for Odsal boy Nathan Conroy
Nathan Conroy is living the dream.
The local lad from Halifax Road near Odsal grew up supporting the Bulls on the terraces.
Now he is playing for his home-town club and looks set for a big future.
The 18-year-old hooker made his Super League debut last September, playing the last 20 minutes of the final-day televised 58-6 home win over Huddersfield.
It was the perfect ending to a season in which Conroy and fellow rookie Alex Mellor became full-time professionals after being promoted from the Academy on July 1.
Conroy’s cameo against the Giants saw him become the fifth Academy graduate to appear for the first team last year following the emergence of Sam Wood, Oliver Roberts, Mellor and Curtis Naughton.
Conroy has bulked up since then and, with Heath L’Estrange having departed at the end of last season, the teenager looks set for more game-time this year.
Conroy, who spent time on Dudley Hill’s books before joining West Bowling, said: “I have always supported the Bulls, and for me it’s the only place I want to be.
“I started here when I was about 12 in the scholarship, then signed for the Academy when I was 16 before going full-time last year.
“My family are all Bulls fans and we used to go to the Grand Finals together and things like that.
“Being a Bradford lad, it’s a dream come true to be playing for the first team. It’s something I’ve always wanted.”
Conroy is eligible to play for the under-19s again this year but he looks certain to be afforded first-team opportunities throughout the campaign.
He reasoned: “Disko and Adam are above me in the pecking order because they’re more experienced.
“Adam has played a few Super League games and Disko has spent his whole career there, so I think I’ve just got to be in the mix.
“I’m physically fit so as soon as a chance comes I want Franny to think ‘right, you’re straight in there, you can do a job for us’.
“My body transformation has come on a lot since I made my debut last September.
“I’ve lost a lot of body fat and put on more muscle mass, so I’m feeling fitter and quite a bit stronger.
“I’ve still got another year in the 19s, so I’ll play in there when Disko and Adam are fit. If one of them gets injured, or if Franny just wants me to play one week, then I’ll be ready to take my chance.
“You look at Adam and I learn from him, we help each other out doing extras in training, plus Disko helps me out all the time too.”
Conroy’s speed and willingness to run at opposition defenders was evident during the opening friendly win against Hull FC when he came off the bench.
He cites St Helens and England hooker James Roby as his inspiration, and said: “A lot of my game is running out of dummy half, catching markers off guard and trying to gain us metres.
“I think it’s good sometimes to come off the bench when the opposition is tiring and I can dash out and make more yards.
“It was sad to see Heath go as he was another older head who helped me out and was a great player too.
“But it gives me an opportunity and as soon as I get it I will be doing my best to take it. I think the more home-grown talent we have in the team the better.”
* Read this story and much more in today's Bulls pre-season supplement in the Telegraph & Argus