Extra incentive in NRRRL grand final
WINNING his first premiership would be fitting for Ballina second-rower Justin Shillingsworth who has been an unsung hero at the Seagulls in Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League.
The Seagulls have been the team to beat this season and can win it for a fourth time from the past five years when they host Cudgen at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina, tomorrow.
Shillingsworth, 28, is a tough customer and has been one of the key enforcers in the forward pack over the past two seasons.
Most of the current team have won a grand final together while Shillingsworth is raring to go against the biggest forward pack in the competition.
"It doesn't get much bigger than this and I'd love to get a grand final win under my belt,” Shillingsworth said.
"I've had a few good years in footy and a couple of bad ones, but never won a grand final.
"I'd say I'm probably one of the only guys in this team that hasn't won one yet.
"My missus loves footy as much as I do and I'll have my kids there cheering me on.
"We moved here for a bit of a lifestyle change and I was always going to play footy once we got here.”
Shillingsworth played most of his rugby league at Dubbo and stood out in a Ballina side that missed the semi-finals last season.
He has taken that form into the season while the Seagulls have added five-eighth Alex Grant, fullback Oliver Regan and a returning Dylan Montgomery to become a premiership threat.
"I've been pretty happy with my performance and some of the other guys that were here last year have stepped up too,” Shillingsworth said.
"Cudgen have a massive forward pack and we're prepared for a big game around the middle.
"I love getting bashed around the field and hopefully it will lead to a win.”
Kick-off is 2.45pm.
In other games, Marist Brothers will look to complete an undefeated season when they take on Cudgen in the reserve grade grand final.
The Rams have plenty of players with first grade experience, including halfback Wally Kelly and front-rowers Darryl Butcher and Tony Gava.
Kick-off is 12.30pm.
Meanwhile, Ballina is aiming for back-to-back premierships and take on Casino in what should be an entertaining Under-18s game.
The Seagulls will be led by halfback Kel Sheather while winger Eddie O'Connor is one to watch from Casino.
Kick-off is 11am.
Marist Brothers take on Byron Bay in the women's league tag final at 9.30am.