Grafton Ghosts Aaron Hartmann plants the ball over the try line during the pre-season trial against Evans Head at McGurren Park.
Grafton Ghosts Aaron Hartmann plants the ball over the try line during the pre-season trial against Evans Head at McGurren Park. Lynne Mowbray

Ghosts players stake claims

GRAFTON Ghosts captain-coach Ryan Farrell admits he'll have plenty of headaches selecting his top 17 when the NRRRL competition kicks off after the Easter break.

The Ghosts contested their second pre-season trial game of the year on Saturday, running out convincing winners against last year's semi-finalists Evans Head.

In what can only be described as a disjointed game, the Ghosts won 28-8 against a Bombers' side seemingly lacking direction.

There were plenty of positive signs to come out of the game but for the newly appointed Ghosts head coach, ball security was the chief concern.

"There were some good signs out there today," Farrell said.

"Our defence was really good, there was plenty of talk and enthusiasm and I can't knock the guys' efforts.

"But we got away from what we did last week against Orara. We got away from the game plan and there were far too many pushed passes.

"We made it difficult for ourselves so we have plenty of work to do during the week."

Farrell was at his scheming best in oppressive conditions at Frank McGuren Field, while teammate Aaron Hartmann was simply all class.

Hartmann sent an ominous warning to rival clubs with an outstanding display in attack and defence.

Last year's two-try grand final hero continually split the defence on the edges and pulled off several try-saving tackles.

"Aaron's at a different level and we're very lucky to have him," Farrell said.

But for the Ghosts' skipper, settling on a line-up to take on the Bombers in their first game of the competition proper will be a difficult task.

One player who staked a claim for a spot in the backline was former Rhinos and Lower Clarence Magpies' fullback Joel Moss.

Moss started the game on the wing before moving to fullback in the second half and he didn't let his teammates or coach down.

But the explosive outside back might have his work cut out shifting incumbent No.1 Mitch Lollback who showed flashes of brilliance against the Bombers.

"Mossy's doing his best and making my job a lot more difficult," Farrell said.

"He's been training hard and performed well in our first two trial games."

Moss said he had found a home at the Ghosts and couldn't be happier for a chance to run out with the reigning NRRRL premiers.

"It's going to be hard to cement a position in first grade but that's going to be the case for a lot of players," he said.

"All I can do is play to the best of my ability each week."

The NRRRL season is scheduled to kick off on April 14-15 with the Ghosts to take on the Rhinos in reserve grade and under-18s. The Ghosts' A-grade season kicks off in round two when they take on the Bombers.



Grab a copy of tomorrow's Daily Examiner for an eight-page liftout previewing this year's NRRRL competition.

Gary Nichols takes a look at the comings and goings at all the clubs and gets up close and personal with some of the NRRRL's key players.

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