NATHAN Conroy does not have to look far for inspiration as he seeks to establish himself in the Bulls’ first-team next season.
Adam O’Brien, two years Conroy’s senior, has been given an opportunity by Jimmy Lowes in recent weeks and has taken his chance with aplomb.
O’Brien has played 80 minutes in the Bulls’ last four outings, helping the team to a run of three straight victories to underline his class and earn a new deal.
With Matt Diskin expected to hang up his boots at the end of the season, O’Brien’s role will be crucial next season as the club’s senior hooker.
But Conroy, in turn, will be pushing for regular first-team football and challenging O’Brien for a starting spot.
The boyhood Bulls fan, who grew up near Odsal and has agreed a new one-year deal, has been named in the 19-man squad for Sunday’s trip to Castleford.
The 19-year-old former West Bowling amateur said: “Adam has played a good number of games this year and established himself as the first-choice hooker in the team.
“I’ve just got to keep striving to catch him up and hopefully next year I’ll be in Jimmy’s plans as much as possible.
“Jimmy has given Adam a chance and he’s proved him right – he’s taken the bull by the horns and has been in great form.
“When Disko got injured, he stepped up to the plate and really performed. That's a great example for me to try and follow.”
Added to the mix for a hooking berth next season will be Vila Halafihi, a former Leeds academy prospect who has been plying his trade in Australia with Penrith’s under-20s side.
“They’ve brought another hooker to the club in Vila, so there will be three of us competing for game-time,” added Conroy.
“It’s important that we all work hard in training and Jimmy will pick whoever he thinks is right for that particular game.
“I remember playing against Vila in the Academy but not for a while as he has been over in Australia.
“He’s a good player and is going to push me on to try and get a place in the side.”
Conroy has again played the vast bulk of his rugby for the under-19s this season, with his only taste of first-team action coming against Oldham in the Challenge Cup and during chastening defeats at Wigan and Catalan respectively.
“It’s a great experience to get out on the field and you just want as much game-time as possible,” said Conroy.
“I think the more game-time you get, the more it benefits you and your skill levels increase.
“Stepping up from the under-19s to Super League, it’s the speed you need to get used to and fitness is a massive thing on the back of that.
“Jimmy was a top hooker himself and as my coach he’s going to be critical of me and that’s going to make me want to perform better.
“He will be able to give me a lot of tips about doing things right, which is only going to help me.”
Sam Wood is seeking a new club after confirming he will be leaving Odsal at the end of the season.
The home-grown 20-year-old last featured for the Bulls in the Magic Weekend defeat to Huddersfield but has since impressed for Dewsbury on dual-registration.