THE Gladiators 2019 campaign is finished, and with that it signals the time to say goodbye to some of the players who donned the green and gold this year.
Three players who will be sorely missed are trio Eze Harper, Josh Adu-Dwanna and Joshua Ward, all three of whom hail from the north of England.
All three brought a particular skillset on the offensive side of the ball which caused havoc for CDRL defences throughout the year.
Ward’s passing game, ability to organise and overall rugby league nous meant he had the opposition retreating every time he had the ball.
Harper had a similar effect on opposing defences, as his athleticism and elite footwork often left would-be tacklers clutching at air.
Adu-Dwanna on the other hand had a more direct approach, choosing to use his significant mix of strength, speed and explosive power to consistently run over both tacklers and the advantage line.
While their play this year is to be applauded, their impact off the field was just as important, as their boisterous and welcoming personalities was crucial in the much-needed culture shift at the club in 2019.
“There’s still more that needs to be done to improve the culture at the club, but there’s people there now who are working hard to ensure that it does,” Ward said.
“While it was an up and down season for the team both on and off the field, there’s definitely potential and hopefully the boys can build on it for next year.”
Despite certain performances this season which made it easy to see why he played semi-professionally in the UK, Ward said he wasn’t particularly happy with his play in 2019.
“There were some issues at the club in the middle of the season which didn’t help my performances, but I got back to enjoying my football in the last month or so,” he said.
“We won three out of our last four and I felt that was when I was playing my best rugby league.”
Adu-Dwanna’s season was exceptional, with a number of his performances deserving of man of the match honours.
“Our season was a bit of a disappointment on the whole, I tried my best individually and had we come together a bit more as a team I feel we could’ve done a lot better,” Adu-Dwanna said.
“As Wardy said (Joshua Ward), things are looking good for next season and I’m confident they’ll do well.
“I think Trent being appointed captain-coach meant the squad was more invested in playing and you saw that in our performances in that last month of the season.”
Harper echoed Adu-Dwanna’s sentiments, noting that they had the side to compete for the CDRL title this year.
“I genuinely believe we had the talent to beat anyone,” Harper said.
“We definitely should’ve done better this season but with the amount of young guys coming through the ranks the future looks bright.
“If they can continue to improve on the culture at the club they can go all the way and win a title.”