Eels haven for the Smith ?family
By STEVE SPINKS
WATCH out for the name Tim Smith.
That's the prediction from Parramatta rugby league coach Brian Smith as his team prepares for its first hit-out of the 2005 season against Cronulla at Oakes Oval, Lismore, this Saturday night.
Asked by The Northern Star to nominate a player on the rise, the Eels coach had no hesitation in recommending Northern Rivers league fans keep an eye on Smith (no relation), who plays halfback.
"Tim's from the Gold Coast and was an Australian schoolboy in 2002," Smith said.
"He'll probably be playing the second half of the match this Saturday.
"He was quite outstanding at the back end of last season in Premier League.
"He's one of the boys we're all dying to see if he can actually handle the step up to the next level.
"He's an exciting talent with quite a bit of flair about him and I think there is nothing more exciting than the potential of a young halfback ... especially if you're an old one yourself."
It's exactly this type of possibility at the start of a rugby league season that excites Smith, despite the fact he's well into his second decade of coaching.
"I can't wait for Saturday night even though it's a pre-season game and not a premiership match," he said.
"We'll be looking to get the usual things out of the match because we have a lot of changes in key positions."
Some of the changes include new signings like hooker Mark Riddell (St George), halfback PJ Marsh (New Zealand Warriors), centre Timana Tahu (Newcastle) and second-rower Glenn Morrison (Cowboys), all of whom will be on deck this Saturday night.
Smith, who was born at Maclean and grew up at Casino, is also looking forward to catching up with family and friends.
"All my family have booked up truckloads of tickets," Smith chuckled.
"It will be good to get back to Oakes Oval as well.
"All the league grand finals and things were played there when I was young.
"It was a terrific ground in those days."