League's best 17
WHEN 'The King', Wally Lewis, was doing it for Brisbane representative rugby league, Graham Lees was doing it for the Northern Rivers.
The two crossed paths.
“We played Brisbane in preparation for the country championships,” Lees said.
“They had Bryan Niebling, Gene Miles and I marked up against Wally Lewis.
“I couldn't even put my arms around Wally.”
Brisbane won the trial but Lees and the 1987 Northern Rivers team went on to win the NSW Country Championships.
Lees' efforts earned him a spot on the NSW Country team and now a place in local rugby league history.
The current Ballina first grade coach was yesterday named in a 35-man squad for the Retravision Centenary Team.
“It's a bit of a buzz,” Lees said after hearing the news.
“Winning that Country championship was great. You want to do your town proud and your area proud.
“We had a really good bunch of guys and all the time I've played up here there has been good camaraderie.”
Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League (NRRRL) chairman Robin Harley said he expected the list, chosen by six long-term regional selectors and officials, to generate debate and welcomed all local fans to have their say.
“As recognition of the centenary of rugby league, the NRRRL has chosen a squad of players deemed the best to represent our league since its inception,” he said.
“The Northern Rivers division was established in 1981, so the team was chosen from players who have represented from then to the present.
“The selectors will meet at a later date to finalise a starting 17 but the NRRRL would like to invite local supporters to have their say in the make up of the final 17.
“This will, no doubt, create some interest and no small amount of debate.”
Only players who have represented the group at a senior level were eligible for selection, meaning the likes of current stars Matt King, James and Mitchell Aubusson and Shannon Walker were not considered.
To encourage input, the NRRRL is asking people to submit their 17-man team from players in the squad, and is offering a $200 Retravision voucher to the person whose team is the closest match to that of the selectors to be named on September 5.
- Entries marked 'Retravision Centenary Team' can be mailed to PO Box 247 Casino 2470; PO Box 340 Grafton 2460 or PO Box 15 Kyogle 2474 before August 31.