Action from a Casino game against Mullumbimby.
Action from a Casino game against Mullumbimby. Brian Olive

NRRRL: Cougars need to step it up

CASINO has welcomed back one of its best players after losing its most dangerous attacking weapon in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League this season.

Mercurial fullback Corey Torrens has left the area but inspirational centre Todd Johnson is back at the club after having moved to Sawtell in 2014.

The Cougars have snatched last-minute wins in the opening two games and will need to step it up when they host Cudgen at Queen Elizabeth Park, Casino, today.

"We've lost a bit of talent there with Corey but Vinnie Roberts has come across from Kyogle and he knows how to play,” captain Damien Benn said.

"And to have Todd back is massive because he was such a good player here for many years.

"He was probably always going to find his way back here eventually especially with (coach) Brett Loy being his brother-in-law.”

Casino has kept a core group of its players from the past few seasons with the likes of Roy Bell, Simon Pederson and Benn.

Hooker Chad Taylor has become an important figure in the team with consistent centre Brent Scott-Hall scoring plenty of tries out wide.

"We're lucky that we've been able to add people in and we haven't really felt the pinch when we lose a few along the way,” Benn said.

"I'm pretty confident in the side we have but we will need to step it up against teams like Ballina and Cudgen.

"We follow Ballina in the draw and even though they belted Cudgen last week we're expecting a tough game.”

Casino will have plenty to prove this season after reaching the preliminary final last year in a game that will be remembered for the tragic death of Murwillumbah second-rower Grant Cook.

The game was abandoned with Murwillumbah automatically advancing to the grand final and going on to win the premiership when they beat Cudgen 16-14.

"That rattled a lot of people right across the region and it was tough on everyone,” Benn said.

"There wasn't much we could do about that ending our season but it gives us the desire to go on and win the competition this year.”

Kick-off is 3pm.

In other games today:

> Ballina will look to win its third straight when it plays Evans Head at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina.

> Byron Bay hosts Marist Brothers at Red Devil Park, Byron Bay.

> Kyogle is at home to the Tweed Coast Raiders at New Park, Kyogle.

> Murwillumbah takes on Lower Clarence at Stan Sercombe Oval, Murwillumbah.

Mullumbimby has the bye.



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