James Hopes trains at Maroochydore.
James Hopes trains at Maroochydore. John Mccutcheon

Bulls to give it horns

QUEENSLAND captain James Hopes fired an ominous warning to his rivals yesterday, declaring the defending champion a more dangerous outfit this time around.

The Bulls, who are at Buderim for a week-long training camp this week, have assembled a formidable roster for the summer and Hopes believes the side is primed for a big campaign.

"It's looking pretty good. We've got a good list together," he said.

"We've got a couple of guys who have come in, Nathan Hauritz and Usman Khawaja, and they are going to be pretty handy additions.

"I think the addition of Hauritz to our one-day team is massive.

"He gives us a genuine spinning option now and that's going to help us when we go south to play.

"And we've got good cover. We're set up to cover for guys who play for Australia and for guys who have injuries."

The impressive Bulls roster includes the likes of Australian paceman Ryan Harris, middle-order batsman Peter Forrest and emerging quick Alister McDermott.

But all-rounder Hopes, 33, understands his bolstered line-up must perform to get results.

"On paper we probably have a better team compared to last year but games aren't played on paper," he said.

And he knows Queensland has a target on its back this campaign.

"It's a bit of a different position for us," he said.

"We've got a good squad but we're not going to be flying under the radar this year like we did at the start of last year.

"As defending champions people know what we're capable of and they're not going to take us that lightly," he said.

For Hopes, the season represents a chance to re-emerge as a force at domestic and international level.

He played just five of 11 Sheffield Shield games last season before producing an invaluable, match-turning 58-run knock in the grand final.

"My season last year was almost a write-off if we didn't win the final," he said.

"I battled my knee.

"The whole summer it was a bit of an issue."

"I've spent almost five months getting that right and I can now train without any pain in it, so I'm itching for the first game (against South Australia at the Gabba on November 1)," Hopes said.

Hopes, who has 84 one-day international appearances to his name, averaging 25 with the bat and 36 with the ball, hasn't laced up for Australia for two years.

But he is not intent on breaking back into the national squad.

"I suppose it's not at the forefront of what I want to achieve," he said.

"I had a pretty good run there for a few years. If they (selectors) go back to me, it will be a pleasure to play for Australia again but that's not one of my main goals at the moment.

"My main goal is to lead this group and lead them well."

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