Knight shift for Seahorses
BALLINA five-eighth Mitch Knight has big shoes to fill when he replaces younger brother Grant Knight in Far North Coast rugby union at Quays Reserve, Ballina, today.
Grant Knight will make his debut for NSW Country this weekend, paving the way for his older brother to guide Ballina from five-eighth against defending premiers Wollongbar-Alstonville.
Mitch Knight will also take on the goal-kicking.
He has played fullback, halfback and wing in the Seahorses' backline in recent years.
He played most of the game at five-eighth in a 20-19 win over Casuarina earlier this season after his younger brother left the field with a shoulder injury.
Talented teenager Tom Watson can also play five-eighth but will miss the game after he was selected in the NSW Country Under-20 team.
"We're really pleased for Grant and Tommy on their Country selection and the whole club is proud of them,” Ballina coach Chris Hickey said.
"Mitch has filled in at just about every position already and he has natural rugby instincts.
"I'm confident in his ability and there are no issues there because he has always delivered in the past.
"We're lucky that we have someone with his kicking ability and that will be a bonus too.”
The Pioneers will be without injured five-eighth Ben Damen but have named Josh Toole to make his FNC rugby debut in the centres.
Toole played rugby league last year at Evans Head and was one of the best players in the local competition.
He could prove to be a real handful in a backline which already boasts plenty of talent.
The game also has extra meaning as the Seahorses aim to retain the Dane Cupitt Shield.
Cupitt played juniors with Wollongbar before winning an Under-19 premiership with Ballina.
He died in a car accident in 2002 and the memorial day has been held annually for several years.
His father Noel Cupitt usually hands out the jerseys to Ballina while club stalwart Brett McLennan dusts off his boots to play for the Seahorses.
"It has a little bit more feeling and it means a lot to everyone around the club,” Hickey said.
"These are the games you train for all year and it will be a good time for us to see where we're at.”
Kick-off is 3.15pm.
In other games:
Lennox Head takes on the Casino Bulls at Williams Reserve, Lennox Head.
Bangalow is chasing back-to-back wins against Southern Cross University at Schultz Oval, Bangalow.
Lismore hosts Byron Bay at Lismore Rugby Park.
Casuarina Beach has the bye.