ROLE MODEL: Ballina centre Joel Staude is now a veteran of the Seahorses backline at the tender age of 24.
ROLE MODEL: Ballina centre Joel Staude is now a veteran of the Seahorses backline at the tender age of 24. Vicki Kerry

Consistent centre a linchpin for Seahorses

CONSISTENCY and experience has helped make centre Joel Staude a valuable asset at Ballina in Far North Coast rugby union.

Staude has rarely missed a game since coming into first grade in 2014 and now finds himself a veteran as a 24-year-old in a young backline.

Ballina will take on Byron Bay at Quays Reserve, Ballina, today with five of its backline either teenagers or in their first year in the top grade.

The Seahorses lead the competition, having won all nine games this season, with Staude enjoying being back in the centres after playing most of 2017 at fullback.

"I'm definitely a centre, I'm more of a ball runner and not really known for my speed or kicking,” Staude said.

"I've been lucky to play a lot of rugby over the past five years and I think I've only missed one or two games.

"This is one of the younger teams I've played in but everything seems to be gelling and we've had a really good start to the year.”

Staude will be tested today with Byron Bay captain Harvey Bell moving back into the centres.

Centre partner Anthony Lolohea will mark up against Bell in what is a mouth-watering clash.

"Anthony is hard to stop once he gets going and can be pretty destructive,” Staude said. "It makes my job easy when I get quick ball off him and we have good finishers on the wing.

"Byron has always been a bogey team for us and we'll need to stay out of the niggle and grind out a win.

"Some of our team have had a taste of playing in a grand final but we're a long way off that yet.”

The Seahorses will also hold a fundraiser today for club member Matt Davidson after the premature birth of his daughter Bethany.

Kick-off is 3.15pm.

In other games:

Lennox Head host the Wollongbar-Alstonville Pioneers at Williams Reserve, Lennox Head.

The Pioneers welcome back NSW Country five-eighth Ben Damen and will look to flankers Nick Pennisi and Hamish Mould along with No8 Steve Mison. New No8 Daniel Alley is one to watch for the Trojans while Riley Wilson comes into hooker.

Bangalow plays Lismore City at Schultz Oval, Bangalow.

Casino hosts Casuarina at Albert Park.

Ballina: 1 Isaac Pratten, 2 Brett Johnston, 3 Callam Turner, 4 Ryan Hamilton, 5 Jakob O'Connor, 6 Brad Brown , 7 Andrew Burke (c), 8 Stan Lolohea, 9 Nick Watson, 10 Beau Clarke, 11 Terry Ferguson, 12 Anthony Lolohea, 13 Joel Staude, 14 Joel Noble, 15 Tom Watson. Coach: Chris Hickey.

Byron Bay: 1 Matthew Sloyan, 2 Will Rudkin, 3 Josh Smith, 4 Luke Philip, 5 Dan Burnham, 6 Michael Armstrong, 7 Bedwyr Davies, 8 Jack Cooke, 9 Blake Whittakar, 10 Joel Stocks, 11 Hamish Rowland, 12 Harvey Bell (c), 13 Jordan Foster, 14 James Boozer, 15 James Oakley. Coach: Jeff Watt.

Referee: Matthew Clayton.

Lennox Head: 1 Matt Liddle, 2 Riley Wilson, 3 Jacob Creagh, 4 Harry Bungate, 5 Mackenzie Winchester, 6 Hayden Blair, 7 Luke Mounic, 8 Daniel Alley, 9 Abe Goldsmith, 10 Hugo Marks, 11 Tasman De Groot, 12 Zac Beecher, 13 Brad Lees, 14 Martin McNamara, 15 Paul Crozier. Coach: Jason McCombie.

Wollongbar-Alstonville: 1 Brandan Whitney, 2 Bill Johnston, 3 Benji Tiatia, 4 Josh Galbraith, 5 Austin Markwort, 6 Nick Pennisi, 7 Hamish Mould, 8 Steven Mison, 9 Louis Hollman, 10 Ben Damen (c), 11 Jason Walsh, 12 George Toomey, 13 James Vidler, 14 Connor Storck, 15 Sam Kerry. Coach: Ern Sandral.

Referee: Graham Cook.

Bangalow: 1 Sam Rawsthorne, 2 Dan Hill, 3 Simeli Miranalasekula, 4 Jock Craigie, 5 Angus Dickson, 6 Isaac Hill, 7 John Turagabeci, 8 Dan Rollinson (c), 9 Tim Cohen, 10 Tom Slater, 11 Daniel Proudman, 12 Ryan Duffy, 13 Jed Erickson, 14 Chris Bleakley, 15 Ben Farrow. Coach: Marty Clapp.

Lismore: 1 Greg Martin, 2 Kenny Gaffney, 3 Chris Doolan, 4 Damian Cootes, 5 Gavin Tulk, 6 Tyler Coveney , 7 Brenden Williams (c), 8 Nigel Marshall, 9 William Fairweather, 10 Chris Clark, 11 Sam Johnston, 12 Cody Johnston, 13 Daniel Marsh, 14 Andrew Sky, 15 Rory Richardson. Coach: Ray Taylor.

Referee: Dylan Harris.

Casino: 1 Blake Birmingham (c), 2 Anthony Butta, 3 Brock Armstrong, 4 Nathan Davy, 5 Scott Kenny, 6 Marcus Cusack, 7 Elliott Birmingham, 8 Josh Fuller, 9 Ben Collison, 10 Harrison Cusack, 11 Jason Birney, 12 Carl Tahatu, 13 Rusiate Loganimasi, 14 Korey Bennett, 15 Saimoni Rokowaqa. Coach: Doug Murray.

Casuarina Beach: 1 Dale Salmon, 2 Daniel Heritage (c), 3 Robert Beacroft, 4 Jack Pick, 5 Arthur Blin, 6 Geoff Wallis, 7 James McMahon, 8 Adam Leach, 9 Matt Burgess, 10 Vitori Buatava, 11 Josh Harman, 12 Nathan Croft, 13 Graham Dodge, 14 Jordan Reed, 15 Kai George. Coach: Adam Leach.

Referee: Peter Brown.

Bye: Southern Cross University.

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