GROUP 7 product Jesse Dee will look to build on his first season in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW, when he lines up in the Queensland Cup in 2018.
Dee, a Warilla-Lake South junior, will trade his Illawarra Cutters colours for those of the Mackay Cutters, after making the move north recently.
“It all started when Mackay contacted me in November, saying they were keen for me to join their club,” Dee said.
“They then flew me up there and showed me around the area, before Craig Menkins offered me full-time work in one of the local mines – which I would have to juggle with my part time football career.
“In the end, making the move was a big decision and one that I chatted with, at length, with my close friends and family.
“We all agreed that this decision would be a beneficial step in my football career.”
Dee, 23, is excited with the new opportunity he has been handed, one he intends to grab with both hands.
“Mackay offers me a new environment, new challenges and a new sets of eyes watching me – so hopefully I can perform up to the standard I know I’m capable of,” he said.
“Coach Steve Sheppard has already told me he wants me to play aggressively, while buying into the culture they’ve developed up here over the past 10 years.”
While 2017 was an up and down season for Dee, largely due to injury, he is keen to make 2018 his best season to date.
“I really want to perform and repay the faith of the Mackay club, who have brought me all the way up here,” he said.
“I know I’m in the right place to take my game to the next level and I’m keen to test myself against the best that the Queensland Cup has to offer.
“It’s different to last year though, with only a couple of North Queensland Cowboys players being in our squad, while the Illawarra Cutters has like 15 players dropping back from the St George Illawarra Dragons each week.
“As such, there should be more opportunity for me to play, as well as the team to build as a cohesive unit.”
At the end of the day, Dee, who last played in Group 7 for the Shellharbour Sharks, believes this step makes him closer to making his debut in the NRL.
“Obviously I still harbour a dream of one day playing NRL,” Dee said.
“But all I’m going to worry about is going out there and playing strong footy while letting the rest sort itself out.”