Zac Woolford has been at the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs for less than six months, but he feels right at home in the blue and white.
Son of Canberra veteran Simon Woolford, Zac shone through the Raiders' junior system and played a vital role in the NSW under-20s Origin victory last year. He was then a part of the Bulldogs' mass signing spree last October and is currently playing in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW.
While his outgoing personality and friendly persona meant he had no trouble fitting in at his new club, Woolford admits it was comforting to have ex-Raider Matt Frawley on board to welcome him on day one and, more recently, the addition of Lachlan Lewis who came up from Canberra just two weeks ago.
“[The Bulldogs] are an unreal club, I’ve learned a lot from all of the boys here and especially the coaches,” Woolford tells NSWRL.com.au.
“Des [Hasler] has been really good for me and just simplified my job, I’m really enjoying my time.
“It’s good to have a few familiar faces, especially when I was new here; ‘Frawls’ [Frawley] has been really good to me and shown me the NSW Cup [Intrust Super Premiership], and it’s good to see him getting his crack.”
Alike his father, Woolford is an incredibly hard-working hooker full of talent and is pushing for an NRL debut.
He is learning every day from the representative players training alongside him in order to achieve his first grade goal, none more so than Josh Reynolds, but says the transition from under-20s to senior football physicality has been the most challenging aspect of the new season.
“I’ve just got to learn how to play against mature bodies, that’s the biggest thing,” Woolford says.
“It’s a lot more physical up here and you take more knocks, just dealing with it week to week has been massive for me.
“Josh Reynolds has been really good to me, Josh Jackson as well; they’ve shown me how to be a professional that will get me to NRL hopefully.”
His latest game was yesterday afternoon in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW, where the Bulldogs went down in a brutal contest against the North Sydney Bears. Each team scored one try each, with only an Eli Levido penalty goal separating the two sides.
The Bulldogs had only one player on the bench at stages of the game having lost various men through injury, and Woolford was quick to credit for the toughness and willingness his side showed despite the result not going their way.
“That was definitely the toughest game we’ve played this year, they’re a really tough team, they just stick it to you the whole game and just wouldn’t go away,” Woolford says.
“We had three different halves today, it was an unreal effort from the boys, we hung in there right until the very end and we were nearly able to steal it.
“All that hard work and we didn’t get the points, it’s a real shame.”
If Zac remains in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW side in two weeks, he will play against the Simon Woolford-coached Newcastle Knights team.