Footy heroes to mix with fans
By JANELLE McLENNAN
NORTH COAST rugby league fans will not only get to see a great game of footy when Cronulla take on Parramatta in Lismore tomorrow, they'll also have the chance to meet some of the stars of the game.
Both team managements have also backed their players' commitment to honouring the off-field code of conduct.
Neither expects problems such as those which erupted after a trial game involving the CanterburyBankstown team in Coffs Harbour last year.
Players from the two National Rugby League clubs will be out and about in Lismore today and tomorrow.
Fans will be able to meet the players and get autographs after training sessions at Oakes Oval tonight, and again at shopping centre promotions tomorrow morning.
Players also will conduct skills training sessions at schools in Lismore, Casino, Kyogle, Alstonville and Ballina.
Parramatta's media and community relations manager Damian Kelly said the Coffs scandal would not affect his club's preparation for the Lismore game.
"The main purpose in playing these trial games in country areas if to give the local fans a chance to get up close and personal to their heroes," he said.
"And we don't want to discourage that in any way.
"Our players are responsible young men who know what the rules (the NRL Code of Conduct) are and abide by them."
Similarly, Cronulla's football manager Greg Pierce trusts his players to represent the club and the NRL with honour.
"We're bringing a pretty young team to Lismore and we'll be keeping an eye on them. It's their opportunity to show us, both on and off the field, that they're ready to play First Grade," he said.
"But we don't keep them wrapped in cotton wool.
"Mixing and meeting the locals is all part of the experience, and I know local fans look forward to meeting and talking with the players.
"We've never had any real dramas before and I don't think this weekend will be any different."