#31-40: Northern Rivers' greatest sports stars of all time

THE countdown to the Northern Rivers' top 50 sportspeople continues, and today we reveal the second part of the series.

Rowers, surfers, league and cricket stars made the top 41-50 sportspeople, and today we reveal #31-40.

So, who's next on the list, and who deserves the title of the Northern Rivers' greatest sports star of all time?

We welcome your feedback, so email news@northernstar.com.au with your suggestions and thoughts.

 

40. Kerrie Perkins

Athlete Kerrie Perkins.
Athlete Kerrie Perkins.

BETWEEN 1997 and 2013, Kyogle-born long jumper Kerrie Perkins won the national title five times and was runner-up for another six.

Perkins is a five-time Australian long jump champion and Commonwealth Games silver medallist who leaped 6.57m in 2006 in Melbourne after being out of the medal contention until the penultimate round.

From her first national competition, she was jumping 6m plus and reached a personal best in 2011-12 season with a leviathan 6.70m result.

Not a sport renowned for grace under pressure, Perkins made time stand still as she soared and broke records.

Perkins, who has been based in Canberra since attending the Australian Institute of Sport narrowly missed selection for 2012 London Olympics when she jumped 6.63m and came within 2 cms of the B qualifier.

She first jumped more than 6.50m, a measure of a world-class long jumper, in 2003. In 2007 foot problems kept her off the runway for a year and she has been a regular medallist at Australian Athletics Championships.

 

39. Bill Chaffey

Bill Chaffey.
Bill Chaffey. SCOTT POWICK

BILL Chaffey has become the gold-standard when it is comes to measuring Para triathalon athletes.

As Australia's five-time world Para triathlon Chaffey, 44, has won five world titles, four continental championships, three Australian titles, a Commonwealth Games bronze medal and came fourth at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

After he was hit by a truck while training for the 2005 Australian Ironman Championships near Chinderah, Chaffey suffered four broken vertebrae, broke both his elbows and fractured his pelvis.

Based at Murwillumbah, Chasey competes in the gruelling PT1 (handcycle/racing wheelchair classification -formerly TRI-1) and was TRI-1 Paratriathlon World Champion in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015.

Awards include the 2013, inaugural Australian Paratriathlon Championships, silver in the 2013 Ironman World Championships in Kona, the 2014 the Oceania Paratriathlon Championships in a world best time of 58.22, and the ITU World Paratriathlon event in Elwood, Melbourne.

Forced to withdraw from the 2014 ITU World Triathlon Series Final in Canada after breaking two bones in his pelvis when he fell out of his racing wheelchair training prior to the event, a year later he won the Oceania Paratriathlon Championships PT1 event.

At the 2018 Commonwealth Games, he won the bronze medal in the Men's PWTC despite crashing whilst leading in the hand cycle leg and finishing with a damaged bike.

Chaffeys final international event was the 2018 World Championships where he finished sixth in the Men's PWTC.

 

38. Izack Rodda

Izack Rodda.
Izack Rodda. Stuart Walmsley

TOWERING and talented rugby union lock Izack Rodda focussed on playing junior rugby union at 13 after playing both union and league in his early years.

Rodda, 23, stands 2.2m and commenced playing union in 2009 for the Ballina Seahorses RUFC and was selected for NSW Country junior teams.

He attended Queensland's Ipswich Grammar for his final two years of high school.

In 2014 he was selected for the Australian Schoolboys rugby team and joined the Easts Tigers club in Brisbane to play Queensland Premier Rugby.

Rodda represented the Queensland Under-20 team in 2015 and 2016, played in the National Rugby Championship for Queensland Country and in 2017, he made his Super Rugby debut for the Reds.

Selected for the Wallabies squad by national coach Michael Cheika, Rodda made his first Test cap for Australia in the second Bledisloe Cup match of 2017 in New Zealand.

In September Rodda signed a four-year deal with Rugby Australia and the Queensland Reds

 

37. Dean Ferris

Dean Ferris.
Dean Ferris. Contributed

AUSTRALIAN motocross champion Dean Ferris started out on the path to a professional motocross career chasing cows around the 1600ha family farm outside Kyogle.

Ferris began his formal racing career in 2001 riding a Yamaha YZ 80 2-stroke and he's never looked back.

Seemingly unbeatable, Ferris, 29, is the reigning Australian Motocross Champion in the premier class and added his name to the history books in 2018 as the first rider to win all 10-rounds of the series.

He has also gone undefeated in the title chase for the last three years aboard Yamaha's popular YZ450F.

Earlier this season, the 'Kyogle Kid' filled in for the injured Romain Febvre in the MXGP World Championship.

Having achieved his current goals in the national Australian championship, Ferris moved overseas for a second time chasing opportunities to further hone his skills as a top motocross rider.

But the grounded champion still calls Kyogle home.

 

36. Cody Walker

Cody Walker.
Cody Walker. john mccutcheon

FORMER Casino Cougars junior player Cody Walker, 29, was a late bloomer to the National Rugby League when he made his first-grade debut for South Sydney at the age of 26.

Since that match, the passionate Rabbitoh's player has since established himself as one of the best five-eighths in the competition.

But Walker was returned to representative football after he was demoted from NSW's State of Origin side this season.

Walker played for Country NSW and New South Wales in the 2019 State of Origin series and the Prime Minister's XIII.

On October 7, Walker was named in the Australian side for the 2019 Rugby League World Cup 9s.

A proud man from the Yuin and Bundjalung tribes, Walker also undertakes a great deal a lot of charity work in the indigenous community.

In 2017 Walker had the honour to captain the Indigenous All Stars to victory in the 2019 NRL All Stars match.

 

35. Brendan Drew

Brendan Drew.
Brendan Drew. Supplied

FAST-medium pace bowler Brendan Drew graduated from playing cricket in the Lismore Workers Club Under-12 carnival.

An outstanding junior, as a 17-year-old Drew played for Alstonville when it defeated Tintenbar-East Ballina in the 2001-02 Hooker League final at Oakes Oval, Lismore.

In 2012 he played his first Sheffield Shield final against Queensland.

Drew arrived in Tasmania mid-season in 2005 and 2006 was his year, taking 20 Pura Cup wickets at 31.60 in six matches, and was 12th man in the Tasmania's historic first ever Pura Cup win in 2006/07.

Part of the Tasmanian Tigers for seven years, his Shield and one-day team appearances were sporadic, but he played in the Twenty20 Big Bash League's last three games.

Moving to Victoria saw him head coach premier cricket player for Camberwell 2012- 2018, winning the Jack Ryder Medal as Premier Cricket's best player in 2016/17.

Drew was a Melbourne Renegades squad member for the 2012-13 Big Bash 2 season.

 

34. Matt Gahan

Matt Gahan.
Matt Gahan. The Northern Star

FROM pitching for Marist Brothers at Albert Park to the US for the Brooklyn Cyclones, Lismore baseballer Matt Gahan has chased his sporting dreams in the fast lane.

Currently a free agent, the former New York Mets prospect, Team Australia pitcher and Australian Baseball League player, Gahan, 43, is a firebrand on the mound.

Respected for his speedy pitching, reaching speeds of 150km/h.

Part of one of the first families of Australian baseball Gahan's great-uncle and cousins (and currently nephew Michael), have all played representative baseball for Queensland and, at times, Australia

In 2000 Gahan played with the Brooklyn Cyclones and a report from their first match stated: "Australian hurler Matthew Gahan struck out an impressive six batters in his four innings of work, but was tagged with an earned run despite his teammates' inability to catch a simple pop-up in the seventh inning".

In other words, watch this pitcher, he's on fire.

In 2001 he moved to the Capital City Bombers , before being promoted to Advanced A with the St Lucie Mets in 2002.

His first Australian selection came in 2002 before he suited up against Korea, Japan and also in the World Baseball Classic and the Intercontinental Cup in 2006.

In 2006 he was secured to play professional baseball in Japan and was selected in the 75th Diamond Allstar Queensland team.

Gahan also played in the International Baseball League of Australia with the International All-Stars in 2000/2001.

He played Claxton Shield from 2003 to present with the Queensland Rams (Lismore is part of Baseball Queensland), where he won a Golden Arm award in 2006 and appeared in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic.

 

33. Stuart Herne

Stuart Herne.
Stuart Herne. Graham Broadhead

HEAD of a Lismore motor racing dynasty, Stuart Herne raced karts until he was 17-years-old.

He was considered a natural driver and when Herne moved into the high-octane world speedway racing in 1986 he raced for 16 years.

The winner of six V8 Dirt Modified division champion titles, along the way Herne collected dozen of cups, silverware and medals for his results.

It seemed there was always a place on the V8 Dirt Modified division podium when Herne was behind the wheel.

Herne's luck seemed to turn when he broke his C6 and C7 vertebrae whilst navigating in an off-road dirt buggy, contesting the Donald 500 on May 3, 2008. His vehicle crashed after hitting a dip on a section of the 100km track that runs around Lake Buloke.

The buggy rolled several times after crashing at more than 150km/h.

It took paramedics more than an hour to extract the father-of-three from the wreck.

After undergoing an arduous seven-hours of surgery to stabilise the fractured vertebrae with rods placed next to the injured spine and bone from his hip, he spent some time recovering in The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne .

Against all odds Herne recovered and reckoned that he was "the luckiest person in Australia".

Herne acted as chief mechanic for his three children and nephew when they started karting.

Son Nathan now races in the TA2 Racing Muscle Car Series and was the 2018 Victorian and New South Wales Formula Ford Champion.

Meanwhile, his daughters Bianca and Natasha competed in NSW Wingless Sprintcar Championship and nephew Josh, is an accomplished karter.

 

32. Tom Cooper

Tom Cooper.
Tom Cooper. Andrew Taylor

NOT many cricketers can claim to have played international crickets for the Netherlands and Australia, but former Lismore junior cricket player of the year, Tom Cooper, has that distinction.

Cooper, 32, who holds a dual Australian-Dutch passport, discovered in 2010 he was eligible to play for the Netherlands national cricket team due to his Dutch passport, and he has represented the country in a World Cup and two World Twenty20s.

The talented middle-order batsman bowls a right-arm off spin and bats right-handed, represented the Dutch at the 2011 World Cup.

He then found form for the Redbacks in Sheffield Shield cricket, scoring an unbeaten 203 against NSW in Sydney and compiling 881 runs at 51.82 in 2013-14 to earn Australia A selection.

Cooper plays domestic cricket for South Australia and for the Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League.

He always shone in the limited overs matches, and his breakout performance came in a match for the Prime Minister's XI against a touring West Indies team, when he scored 160 not out.

In 2014 Cooper helped guide the Netherlands at the 2014 World Twenty20 in Bangladesh where he averaged 57.75 for the tournament, including an incredible innings of 45 from just 15 balls to steer the Dutch to a qualification win over Ireland.

In 2016 his inconsistent performances coupled with the emergence of younger players at the Redbacks saw Cooper dropped for a season.

But he regained form with SA signing him for his 10th contract year.

In October Cooper went past 203 for the first time in first class cricket when he was left unbeaten on 271 with SA 6-671 before the Sheffield Shield clash with Victoria.

 

31. David Mead

David Mead.
David Mead. Rob Wright

A STELLAR career playing junior rugby league football for Lismore Marist Brothers saw David Mead signed by the Gold Coast Titans.

Born in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea as David Moore, the lightweight full back moved to Australia as a 12-year-old where he attended Kadina High School and Trinity Catholic College.

In 2008 Mead burst onto the scene representing his PNG homeland at the 2008 World Cup.

Mead debuted for the Titans the following year and proceeded to score 67 tries across eight years and 147 appearances for the club

Between the 2008 World Cup and the 2009 NRL season he changed his surname from Moore to Mead to honour his aunt's family who had raised him when he moved to Australia.

In Round 13 of the 2009 NRL season, Mead made his NRL debut for the Titans against the St George Illawarra Dragons off the interchange bench in the Titans 28-24 win at Skilled Park.

His next appearance in Round 16 against the New Zealand Warriors, Mead made his first appearance in the starting line-up, scoring his first and second NRL career tries in the Titans 28-12 win.

Mead finished his debut year in the NRL with 14 matches and eight tries.

He was part of the PNG squad for the 2009 Pacific Cup, and was named their player of the year by the Rugby League International Federation.

A New South Wales Country Origin and World All Stars representative, Mead also represented his country at the 2013 World Cups and was the PNG Kumuls' captain for the 2017 World Cup.

In 2017 Mead moved to the Brisbane Broncos, in 2018 he joined the English Super League season with the French-based Catalans Dragons on a three-year deal.



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