Jake typifies Rams' forwards in NRRRL
MARIST Brothers second- rower Jake Hoban has never been one to back away from a challenge in Novaskill Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League.
After all, he did make his first-grade debut at only 16 when he played for the Nambucca Roosters six years ago in Group Two.
Brothers are one win away from a grand final but will have to match it with an imposing Cudgen forward pack in the preliminary final at Ned Byrne Field, Kingscliff, tomorrow.
The Rams are not the biggest pack but they have front-rower Kyle Kennedy, hooker Paul O'Neill, lock Jack Durheim and Hoban - four of the best forwards in the NRRRL.
"We're not intimidated by anyone and we're not going to take a backward step,” Hoban said.
"I think what we lack in size we make up in heart and commitment to push each other for 80 minutes.
"I'm a bit smaller but I look after myself physically so I don't get left behind.”
Hoban came to Lismore last year to visit a mate and ended up liking it so much that he transferred his final two years of a primary school teaching degree to Southern Cross University.
He had spent the previous three seasons playing rugby union in Armidale, and a chance meeting with Rams trainer Mick Davis saw him end up in rugby league.
Hoban found scaffolding work with Greg Clark Building. He went on to play in the NRRRL and also represented Northern Rivers in the NSW Country Championships.
He has been a handy addition to a young side, with the Rams playing in the preliminary final for the first time since 2008.
Part of that has seen him learn more about the game under the club's most successful coach, Michael Woods, who has been back for the past few seasons.
"I didn't know a soul when I turned up at training but guys like Darryl Butcher and Lilo (Stavenow) quickly took me under their wing,” Hoban said.
"It's hard to put into words what I've learned from Mick Woods. He has attention to detail and finds a way to work with and get the most out of each player.
"I'm pretty confident in this team and everyone will do their bit to keep our season going.”
Kick-off is 2.45pm.
In other games, Marist Brothers take on Casino in Under-18s at 11.30am while Cudgen plays Murwillumbah in reserve grade at 1pm.
Byron Bay will play Murwillumbah in women's league tag from 10.15am.
Grafton Ghosts and South Grafton will clash in the Group Two grand final at Grafton tomorrow.
PRELIMINARY FINAL TEAMS
Marist Brothers: Fullback David Jacky; wingers Jeremy Garland, Beau Gibson; centres Chris King, Jacob Rose; five-eighth Te Ate Jackson; halfback Jamahl Roberts; props Kyle Kennedy, Lochie Perren; hooker Paul O'Neill; second-rowers Matt Tickle Jake Hoban; lock Jack Durheim. Bench Lilo Stavenow, Jake Campbell, Joe Gordon, Darryl Butcher
Cudgen: Fullback Tyler Chadburn; wingers Conor Mills, Brad Hicks; centres Ben O'Gorman, Jake Sands; five-eighth Todd Seymour; halfback Mark O'Grady; props Simon Kelly, Kobi Mills; hooker Myles Donnelly; second-rowers Josh Sleba, Caleb Ziebell; lock Anthony Flores. Bench Jack Green, Pat Rosser, Sam Harold, Brady Upton.