Nick McGrady with the ball during the Group 2 grand final between the South Grafton Rebels and the Grafton Ghosts at McKittrick Park South Grafton on Sunday, 11th September, 2016.
Nick McGrady with the ball during the Group 2 grand final between the South Grafton Rebels and the Grafton Ghosts at McKittrick Park South Grafton on Sunday, 11th September, 2016. Debrah Novak

First 'Battle of the River' locked in for late April

RUGBY LEAGUE: While all three rugby league clubs in the Clarence Valley have now resumed pre-season training now the Grafton Ghosts the last to return to the paddock on Tuesday, the anticipation for the 2017 season is at fever pitch.

Fans do not have long to wait with the Tooheys New Group 2 Rugby League season set to kick off on March 26.

The 2017 draw was officially released on Monday with the Grafton Ghosts to host Nambucca Heads Roosters at Frank McGuren Field in round one. South Grafton Rebels will be on the road for the first round, journeying to Coffs Harbour for what will be a repeat of last year's major semi-final, which Rebels won 46-28 to earn a home grand final.

While many either side of the Clarence River are still coming to terms with the historic local derby grand final, they will not have to wait long to see a rematch between the two heated rivals with the first Battle for the River happening at Frank McGuren Field in round three on April 9.

The Group 2 finals are expected to begin on August 12 culminating on grand final day which is set for Father's Day on September 3.

While NRRRL is still in the draft stages of producing a 2017 competition draw, NRRRL secretary Tanya Booth confirmed the season will kick off on April 2.

"The season will definitely be 18 rounds long and we have booked in September 10 as our grand final day," she said.

 

Lower Clarence Magpies enforcer Kyran Heron is expected to step up into the senior grades this season.
Lower Clarence Magpies enforcer Kyran Heron is expected to step up into the senior grades this season. Belinda Martyn

The NRRRL will go to a committee meeting tonight where it is expected they will finalise the number of teams in each grade out of the 12 northern rivers' clubs.

While the association has a strict policy of clubs needing to have at least two sides registered in the three grades (Under 18s, Reserve Grade and First Grade), Booth said they would work with clubs that only had one side.

"We are happy to work with clubs, and get them on the field, but maybe under the banner of another club who will not field a side in that grade," she said.

"It will be like Lower Clarence did last year with the Tweed Coast Raiders. I cannot commend Lower Clarence enough for how they did last season.

"What they were able to do is simply amazing. They are now in a much stronger position with a brilliant committee at the helm."

You can view the full Group 2 draw at their website while NRRRL are expected to release their draw at the end of next week.



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