GAME ON: Former NRL players Todd Carney and Jamie Lyon will do battle in NRRRL at Ballina Sunday.
GAME ON: Former NRL players Todd Carney and Jamie Lyon will do battle in NRRRL at Ballina Sunday. Mitchell Craig

Grudge match is on in NRRRL

IT WILL be six months in the making when Todd Carney and Jamie Lyon finally lock horns in Ladbrokes Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League at Ballina Sunday.

The former NRL players have been the talk of the competition since joining Byron Bay and Ballina as captain-coaches in November.

As much as the battle between the five-eighths will get people through the gate, there are other stories and sub-plots which make it a must-watch.

Byron Bay centre Dan Gibson, hooker Andrew Battese and front-rower Dylan Montgomery will play against Ballina for the first time since leaving the club after the grand final last season.

The Red Devils picked up Ballina coach Mick Foster in an assistant role which helped get the trio on board.

Brian Battese is also helping behind the scenes at Byron Bay similar to what he was doing at Ballina.

"Mick coming over and bringing a few players with him is probably the main part of the rivalry that I can see,” Carney said.

"When you come up against your mates at an old club you obviously have a bit of a point to prove.

"These guys have played plenty of footy and it's up to us to jump on the back of that.

"Playing here has been a great transition for me from professional football and to come up against Jamie at this level is great.”

Seagulls favourite Ben Crawford has also come out of retirement and landed at Byron Bay in recent weeks.

Crawford has replaced halfback Ben Webber, who is out with a long-term injury, while former Ballina lock Kane Montgomery and second-rower Scott Stapleton are also at the Red Devils.

Carney has battled a rib injury while Lyon is starting to hit his straps after he retired from Manly at the end of 2016 before putting the boots on again at Ballina.

"The boys going across to Byron has been great for the build-up and excitement around town,” Lyon said.

"We still bump into them and have a bit of a yarn, it definitely makes for an interesting game.

"I'm hearing good things about what Todd has brought to the club and I think it's great he's at Byron working with all the kids and putting their team together.

"We have a good vibe here with the players and I can't ask for any more out of them with how we're going.”

The game will be played at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina, starting at 2.45pm.

HOW THEY LINE UP

Ballina: Fullback Oliver Regan; wingers Chad North, Rhys Riches; centres Kel Seather, Liam Anderson; five-eighth Jamie Lyon; halfback Jess Perry; props Phil Crosby Nic Ritter; hooker Michael Dwane; second-rowers Anthony Colman, Jack Durheim; lock Hayden Hansen.

Byron Bay: Fullback Brad Lees; wingers Finn McElroy, Gabe Belcher; centres Dan Gibson Dulton Shaw; five-eighth Todd Carney; halfback Ben Crawford; props Dylan Montgomery, Kyle Kennedy; hooker Andrew Battese, second-rowers Matt Gallagher, Scott Stapleton; lock Kane Montgomery.

Local derbies feature in the rest of the round Sunday with Casino hosting Kyogle at Queen Elizabeth Park, Casino.

Marist Brothers take on Northern United at Crozier Field, Lismore, while Mullumbimby hosts Murwillumbah at Les Donnelly Field.

In the other game, Tweed Coast takes on Cudgen at Les Burger Field, Cabarita.

LADDER

Ballina 12

Casino 12

Kyogle 12

Tweed Coast 10

Murwillumbah 10

Northern United 8

Cudgen 7

Byron Bay 7

Marist Brothers 4

Mullumbimby 2

Evans Head 0



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