Leigh Centurions were relegated from the European Super League after losing the Million Pound Game against the Catalans Dragons last season, prompting halfback Josh Drinkwater to move back to Australia.
He signed with the club he departed mid-way through 2016, the Wests Tigers, but only on a part-time contract with the Western Suburbs Magpies’ Intrust Super Premiership NSW team. Coach Brett Hodgson played a major role in securing Drinkwater’s services in 2018 from their time in England.
“We got relegated, it’s pretty tough one year into a three-year deal and that’s part of the footy over there,” Drinkwater tells NSWRL.com.au.
“I came home and knew ‘Hodgo’ from my time in England; he coached against me over there so was pretty keen to link up with him, he’s been great for me.
“He’s terrific, I can’t speak highly enough of him for us part-time boys as we do long days, but when we come to training he just makes it a very good environment; I want to rip in and work hard and have a bit fun.
“[England] was a good experience, it didn’t really work out the way we wanted over there with relegation, but it was good to be a part of it.”
For the third week in a row, Drinkwater has been selected at halfback in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW team of the week.
His form has been outstanding for the Magpies, who have won three out of four games with their only defeat being a one-point loss to Wyong where they relinquished a 16-point lead, a game in which Drinkwater still created three tries.
Drinkwater hopes to play well enough to secure a full-time contract.
“I’m happy to be back here, even though it’s part-time,” Drinkwater says.
“I want to get back into a full-time environment ASAP, but at the moment I’m just enjoying it.
“I’ve just got to play good footy each week, it’s a lot different being a part-time player going to work during the day.
“You’ve just got to knuckle down and have the right attitude and hopefully something pops up.”
The Wests Tigers' season has thus far travelled a similar path to the Magpies, with their only defeat coming from a controversial golden-point defeat at the hands of the Brisbane Broncos.
It is no doubt a happy club at the moment, and Drinkwater says the success in the NRL filters down to the Intrust Super Premiership NSW side.
“[The Wests Tigers] have got a pretty steep squad, so they’ve got a lot of depth which means that the players that come back to us they’re all NRL players, and that helps,” Drinkwater says.
“We’re getting full-time boys back and they’re coming back with the right attitude and us part-time boys we’re working hard during the week.
“I think everyone’s working hard and everyone’s sort of buying into what we’re doing.
“We were pretty disappointed after last week giving away a lead and to come out and put 48 points on them, it was a good effort.”
Drinkwater’s point of NRL players having the right attitude in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW is proven by the actions of Sauaso Sue.
Sue didn’t play in the Wests Tigers victory yesterday, instead, he was a part of the Magpies victory, but there is footage of him passionately belting out the team song with the first-grade squad as if he had played.
There is certainly positivity flying around Concord at the moment, with Drinkwater playing a major part in the Western Suburbs Magpies’ early success.