It all starts from here
BYRON Bay’s backline has received a lethal injection ahead of the 2010 Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League season kick-off with the return of premiership-winning centre Clarence Kelly.
The man who scored 38 tries when the Red Devils won the title in 2008 has everyone at the club excited ahead of their opening clash with Murwillumbah at Red Devil Park tomorrow.
Captain-coach Simon Kelly will again be calling the shots from the back-row and said he can’t wait to see his old mate hit full stretch in the red jersey after a stint with Northern United.
“Clarence is a phenomenal runner of the ball and he will definitely add that potency to our backline,” Kelly said.
“We got done by Murwillumbah in the final few minutes of the Charity Shield so we will be looking to make up for that on our home turf on Sunday.”
Out west, a new-look Casino team – complete with new coach – will host Cudgen at Queen Elizabeth Park in the opening round.
Club legend Dene Petty has been handed the Cougars’ reins and will strap on the boots as long as required. But his preference would be to watch the development of a host of young players imported over the off-season.
A revamped forward pack will have and international feel with the addition of Englishman James Barker, 19, and Kiwi Caleb McIntyre, 21.
Petty has had a good look at McIntyre and likes what he sees.
“He was outstanding in the pre-season,” Petty said. “Difficult to stop and hits very hard so looking forward to running around with him.”
Matty Roberts returns to run the show from halfback while the club has also added Sydney-sider Alex Johnson ,19, to the three-quarter line.
Back to the beach, and it’s a battle of the birds with Ballina to host Kyogle at Kingsford Smith Park.
The Seagulls will trot out one of the youngest sides of recent years led by halfback and newly appointed captain Ben Crawford.
Assistant coach Greg Barnes is expecting big things.
“I reckon we have an average age of about 21 so we will be looking for Ben to lead from the front on and off the field,” Barnes said.
Crawford will be joined in the halves by 18-year-old Paul O’Neill who has been with the Gold Coast Titans.
The ’Gulls will welcome back a host of Titans juniors including Andrew Battese and Scott McLennan from the Toyota Cup squad, as well as Damien Sironen, Dane Clarke and Justin Walkley from the Titans’ under-18s.
Kyogle meanwhile, will be led into battle by their new captain coach, NRRRL stalwart Don Walker.
Mullumbimby has been handed the biggest round one task, travelling south to take on premiers Lower Clarence.
A new firm is in town for the Giants with a trio of veterans retiring including captain Andrew Moroney.
The club also has a new coach in Scott Hogan and will be led on the field by prop Jarrod Flick.
Evans Head also face a big start the season with a trek to Grafton to take on a Rhinos side boasting Danny Wicks and Don Dickson.