Country players return to their origins
By SAMANTHA TURNBULL
A TIRED but cheerful Danny Buderus led the NSW Country Rugby League squad on to the tarmac of the Lismore Airport yesterday afternoon.
An hour earlier, their City rivals landed in Ballina, where both teams will spend the next four days training for their clash at Lismore's Oakes Oval on Friday night.
Lismore City Council has predicted the game will inject more than $250,000 into the local economy, with accommodation booked out and more than 5000 tickets sold so far.
Northern Rivers Ticket Office spokesman John Howard said 500 tickets were sold yesterday alone, following the announcement of which players had been selected in both squads.
Country captain Buderus assured local league fans the standard of football would be high, despite a number of big names being deemed ineligible to play after the Anzac Test.
"All you have to do is look at the calibre of the players chosen," he said.
"We've only got a short time to prepare, but it will be good. It'll be a strong attacking game and we'll all be thinking about State of Origin selection."
Buderus also said he was hoping for strong support from the crowd, which is expected to reach its capacity of 8500.
"We're in a country area, so hopefully they'll all come and support us," he said.
"We're all really excited and we've got a few players who are fresh to the rep scene, so that's good as well."
Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League secretary Doug Harrison said Buderus could definitely expect the majority of fans to be Country supporters.
"There's absolutely no doubt about it," he said.
"It's particularly great because we have some young kids coming back to the region where they learnt to play, like Matt King and Amos Roberts, who used to play for Marist Brothers.
"I just hope it's a fine night, weather-wise, and that it's a good close game, because we've spent three years trying to bring a City-Country game to Lismore."