Best of the best (so far) in FNC Rugby Union
NORTHERN Star sports editor Mitchell Craig names five Far North Coast Rugby Union players who have had strong starts to the season during the first month of competition.
Hamish Holbrook (Lennox Head)
Holbrook is now a senior player and key figure in the forward pack after three seasons at the Lennox Head Trojans.
He looks to have only gone up a gear this season since the departure of their best player in flanker Harry Witt.
Holbrook is a menace around the ruck and scored two tries in a 28-17 against the Casino Bulls at the weekend.
The Trojans will need a herculean effort from Holbrook when they take on Byron Bay in the top-of-the-table clash at Lennox Head this Saturday.
Jake Smith (Ballina)
Explosive flanker who has been a standout in all three games this season.
Smith had a year off in 2015 and returned to the club with renewed vigour and aggression this year.
Missed out on the second half against Southern Cross University last weekend when he left the field with a corked muscle in his leg.
Jack Cooke (Byron Bay)
A big No 8 from Ireland who is proving a handful for opposition teams.
Cooke has plenty of good players around him at Byron Bay but has played a key part in all three of their wins.
Byron boasts imports from America, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland and Wales this season.
They became the first team to beat Wollongbar-Alstonville since May 2014, in a 17-16 thriller at the weekend.
Issac Hill (Bangalow)
A fiery redhead who can play just about anywhere in the Bangalow forward pack.
Still only young and will be a key part of the Rebels for years to come if they can keep him at the club.
Hill scored two tries when the Rebels beat Lismore City 38-10 at the weekend.
Ben Damen (Wollongbar-Alstonville)
Another stellar season so far highlighted with selection for a third straight year in the NSW Country Cockatoos team last week.
Damen scored four tries in the season opener against Casino and was the best in a beaten side against Byron Bay last weekend.