WORKHORSE:Casino captain and prop, Chris McGrath, centre, the heart-and-soul of the Cougars forward pack, was once again overlo
WORKHORSE:Casino captain and prop, Chris McGrath, centre, the heart-and-soul of the Cougars forward pack, was once again overlo

Casino crusader

By STEVE SPINKS

CASINO coach Cavill Heugh believes his captain and prop, Chris McGrath, needs to learn how to pick and choose more to stand out for Northern Rivers selection.

The workaholic prop who has for many seasons been the heart-and-soul of the Cougars forward pack was once again overlooked for the local representative season.

McGrath will captain the Cougars against Ballina at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina, tomorrow in the only local Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League match.

"He's a workhorse through and through," Heugh said.

"I think he needs to be shown a few things and techniques, but you can't beat him for enthusiasm.

"Maybe he has to settle down and slow up a bit because sometimes he tries to hard.

"He's taking two runs out of six and sometimes he gets caught out of position."

However, Heugh has no doubt McGrath could handle rep footy.

"No doubt about it at all," the former Queensland State of Origin second-rower said.

"If he could get into a pattern a work well he'd standout more.

"I think sometimes with the Cougars he feels he needs to do a lot of the workload."

McGrath has consistently stood out for the Cougars, none more so than last year when Casino finished last.

He hits hard and often in defence and he also became a major attacking weapon as he developed a nice offload in the tackle.

Astro, as he is known to his mates, is respected by team-mates and opponents for his strong presence on the field and his contribution tomorrow will be vital if the Cougars hope to upset Ballina.

Cameron George is back in the Casino side at five-eighth while Kirk Hancock will start at lock in the only two changes to last week's side that went down to Lower Clarence.

The Seagulls suffered their first loss of the season last weekend to Marist Brothers and no doubt coach Chris Binge has his team fired up so they get back on track.

Binge has resisted slotting centre Mitch Aubusson back into the second-row, but he has reinstated prop Grant Erickson and five-eighth Justin Bolt.

First grade start at 12pm.

CASINO: Fullback, Gary Roberts; wingers, Todd Walker, Ben Birney; centres, Clinton Vidler, Tim Stark; five-eighth, Cameron George; halfback, Matt Roberts; props, Dene Petty, Chris McGrath (c); hooker, Jason Blakey; second-rowers, Andrew Barker, Brad Birney; lock, Kirk Hancock. Interchange: Chad Pearce. Coach: Cavill Heugh.

BALLINA: Fullback, Shaun Laurie; wingers, Clayton Morris, Trent Gasnier; centres, Mitch Aubusson, Ashley Moran; five-eighth, Justin Bolt; halfback, Troy Johnstone (c); props, James Rix, Grant Erickson; hooker, Matt Temby (c); second-rowers, Matt Slattery, Josh Mather; lock, Paul King. Interchange: Matt Connor. Coach: Chris Binge.



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