June 25, 2024

New Tigers recruit reveals ‘big carrot’ that sparked ‘best decision’ of his career

Bud Sullivan is ready to write a new chapter in his career and, potentially, with a new name.

More commonly known as Jayden, the 22-year-old told foxsports.com.au he wants to be known by Bud, his family name, moving forward.

“My dad had always called me Bud when I was little and then when I started getting around footy and stuff dad always called me Bud and it stuck,” Sullivan explained.

Ben Hunt contract news: Young gun Jayden Sullivan prepared to step up for  Dragons | Sporting News Australia

The former Dragons playmaker may be committed to changing his name but one thing he is hoping won’t change anytime soon is the new colours he will be wearing after four years in the red and white, declaring he feels like the Tigers are “going to be my new home for a very long time”.

Sullivan floated in and out of the NRL at the Dragons, managing just 27 games and playing four different positions as he struggled to lock down a consistent role in the Red V.

Injuries didn’t help either, with Sullivan plagued by hamstring issues while also suffering an AC joint setback earlier in 2023.

“Obviously my body has let me down a fair bit in the past and this is the lightest I will be… because I was playing in the middle and on the edge it was a bit hard,” Sullivan said.

“I was up and down in body weight. I was 90 kilos last year, 85 to 86 kilos this year. It’s been a big difference and the body feels good. I feel fast.”

Sullivan said he initially came to the Tigers wanting to “cement” the No. 7 jersey and while halfback remains his preference, the 22-year-old has altered his focus to simply wanting to “do what’s best for the team”.

“If that’s six, seven or whatever, just do what’s best for the team and play 27 games of football this year and hopefully semis and that,” Sullivan added.

“I do like number seven. People say there’s not much difference but I reckon there’s a big difference. I feel like seven, it’s on you and whatever decisions are made comes from you.

I like kicking… just staying in the game I feel like sometimes when I play six I sort of drift in and out of the game a little bit but how we want to play this year I feel like I won’t do that.”

A lot of that comes back to new Tigers coach Benji Marshall, who Sullivan described as the “big carrot” in convincing him that this was the switch he needed at this point of his career.

“There was a big opportunity here,” Sullivan said.

“They haven’t really been going too good. Api Koroisau is one of the best hookers in the game and to learn off him and obviously the big carrot is Benji and what he’s done in the game and to learn off him, there’s probably no one better.

“I want to string up multiple seasons together and I feel like the Tigers is going to be my new home for a very long time.”

In fact, to make sure he got off to the perfect start Sullivan turned up to pre-season training in early November even though he was supposed to have his first day at his new club on the 20th.

Sullivan said it has “probably been the hardest pre-season” he has been involved in, although he does drop the intensity a bit when Benji Marshall gets involved — even if his new coach keeps urging the 22-year-old to go harder on him.

Bud Sullivan: Embracing New Beginnings and Ambitions with the Tigers

“He still jumps in and carves us up,” Sullivan laughed.

“Like today he jumped in and he gets the ball out the back and I’m like, do I tackle him hard, he’s my coach or do I just touch him?

“He always gets at me because I don’t go hard against him. I just put two hands on, two hands touching.”

Sullivan admitted to being “nervous” before pre-season training with the Tigers, speaking to his father a few times before the morning commute from Wollongong started to grow on him.

His teammates have grown on him too. So much so that without playing a game for the Tigers, Sullivan already believes this is “probably the best decision” he has made in his career.

“Once I met all the boys and started getting into a routine, it was probably the best decision I’ve made in my life to come here,” he said.

“The boys are so open and so warming and it’s really nice to wake up every day and come here and put a smile on my face.”

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