It?s mate against mate
By STEVE SPINKS
WHEN brothers play rugby league against each other you can be sure fireworks will follow.
When former Marist Brothers players square up against their old club in a do-or-die game, you can be sure things won't be much different.
That's why you'll probably see many Brothers forwards avoid running at a certain Cudgen second-rower this afternoon in the Bananacoast Credit Union Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League minor semi-final at Crozier Field, Lismore.
After all, Cudgen second-rower Damien Bryant was a renowned hitman during his time with the Brethren.
"I'm looking forward to it," Bryant told The Northern Star yesterday.
"I still have a lot of mates down there and I come down every now and then to catch up.
"I'm still in a horse syndication with a few of them."
The 29-year-old moved to the Tweed earlier this year for a change of lifestyle.
"I knew a few blokes playing at Cudgen like Troy Dickinovski and Andrew King," Bryant said.
"It's a totally different club and we've had a mixed season.
"If we put 80 minutes of football together we'll be hard to beat, but we've only done that twice this year.
"Marist Brothers play for 80 minutes."
Bryant has enjoyed his time with the Hornets, even though the club has been hit hard by injuries.
"I started off in the centres and then I went to lock, then the second row and then a few games in the front row," he chuckled.
Marist Brothers coach Craig Hodges is aware of the impact Bryant could have on his young team this afternoon.
"We lost a lot of blokes at the end of last season," he said.
"If I could pick one to have this year, I'd go for him.
"There's probably better footballers with higher profiles than him that left, but just the quality of the man and the presence he brings.
"He's a great club man."
Bryant had the first laugh earlier this season when Cudgen flogged Brothers 50-16 at Oakes Oval in the ninth round.
But the former real estate agent knows the Rams have the ability to improve.
And improve the Brethren have.
Since that flogging, Marist Brothers are undefeated in nine games, including an enthralling victory over minor premiers Tweed Seagulls.
It's clear Bryant still holds Marist Brothers close to his heart.
But it won't stop him trying to knock them out of the finals race today.
MARIST BROTHERS: Fullback, Nathan Tolley; wingers, Adrian Gooley, Rod McFarlane; centres, Graham Smallwood, Niko Vakararawa; five-eighth, Jake Campbell; halfback, Brent Peterson; props, Simon Andrews, Chris Farrell; hooker, Scott Gibson; second-rowers, Luke Scott (c), Kevin Walker; lock, Alan Campbell. Bench: Tim Tredigo, Luke Campbell, Harry Witt, Trent Clarke, Jason King, Shaun Coe. Coach: Craig Hodges.
CUDGEN (from): Joe Prichard, Adam Evans, Jackson Hardy, Beau Buckley, Brian McCarthy, Craig Thurston, Steve O'Keefe, Dan Donovan, Troy Dickinovski, Kris Sheahan, Damian Bryant, Andrew Hamilton, Corey Williams, Lucas Parker, Heath Wilson, Nick Mobbs, Dan Cheaumont.
Reserve grade: Murwillumbah v Mullumbimby at 1pm.
Under-18s: Ballina v Kyogle at 11.30am.