Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler is hoping Canterbury Cup NSW Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs halfback Brandon Wakeham can take the next step in his Rugby League career when he makes his comeback from an ankle injury this season.
Wakeham, 20, was one of the 12 representatives from all clubs in the Canterbury Cup NSW who attended the launch of the NSWRL’s major competitions at the Centre of Excellence at Sydney Olympic Park on Thursday 7 March.
Fittler was also in attendance and recognised Wakeham, who is in contention for a spot in the Bulldogs following the loss of Josh Cleeland and the elevation of Lachlan Lewis to the first grade squad, from his experience with him in the NSW pathways teams.
“I’ve been with Brandon all the way through in the pathways.
“I’ve liked his cheek and I really hope he makes that next step up - I’ve always had a lot of faith in his football.
“Real courageous kid and I hope he’s that kind of bloke that proves a lot of people wrong and makes it to the next level.
“He said he’s training with the first (grade) team so he’s someone I’ll be watching out for.”
Wakeham is a graduate of the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Harold Matthews, SG Ball and Youth High Performance teams and was named SG Ball Player of the Season in 2017.
True Blue Danny Buderus coached Wakeham in the NSW Under-16s player pathway 2015 squad and had the same sense of excitement as Fittler towards his upcoming season.
“He’s very competitive and passionate about what he wants and how he wants to play the game.” Buderus told NSWRL.com.au
“He thinks differently to most programmed footy players with a really good skillset.”
Bulldogs first-grade squad has the youngest average age in the competition and proven with young guns like Wakeham and Lewis being pushed up into their 30-man NRL side from NSW cup in the past year.
Wakeham suffered a syndesmosis injury to his right ankle in pre-season training, putting him back to a 10-12 week recovery post-surgery.
“I’m excited to see how he comes off the back of that ankle injury and his form since he’s been training with the first-grade squad.”