On-field chatter keeps NRRRL captains on top of their game
YOUNG captains Jess Perry and Paul O’Neill have followed similar paths to first grade in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League.
Both have a preferred position at hooker but now captain Ballina and Marist Brothers as halfbacks.
Perry was playing Under-18s when O’Neill was a teenager in the Ballina first grade side in 2010.
O’Neill went to Brothers the following year and is in his third season as captain while Perry took over at Ballina last year after winning two premierships for the Seagulls in the top grade.
The pair will meet when Ballina hosts Marist Brothers in a top-of- the-table clash at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina, tonight.
“We’re very similar in that we’re definitely not the biggest or fastest guys,” Perry said.
“But I think we are both big talkers on the field and like to organise our teams.
“Paul is a great player and has been in this competition for a few years now.”
Games start early today with junior competition all the way through to first grade as the clubs contest the inaugural Woollam Constructions Club Challenge.
Ballina is also out to retain the Denis Meaney Shield in first grade.
Brothers are unbeaten and have piled on the points in games this season while Ballina have done enough to win three straight.
“We’ve had a bit of a slow start but this is a good test to see where we’re at,” Perry said.
“We lost our first two games last year then got on a roll at the end of the season.
“I think Brothers are the bench- mark this season and will go in as favourites on form.”
Ballina still has plenty of talent in its side with the likes of hooker Andrew Battese and front-rower Dylan Montgomery.
Anthony Colman is back from the Gold Coast and has been playing well despite being out of position in the centres.
“He’ll be one of the best players in the comp when he gets back in the second row,” Perry said.
First grade kick-off is 6pm with the first junior game at 9am.
In other games, halfback Jared De Thierry and lock Cale Rowston will go up against their former club when the Tweed Coast Raiders take on Byron Bay at Red Devil Park, Byron Bay
Both teams are winless after three rounds and desperate to get on the board.
Elsewhere, Casino hosts Evans Head when the other two un- defeated teams clash at Queen Elizabeth Park, Casino, tomorrow.
Northern United can win its first game against Murwillumbah at Crozier Field, Lismore.
And Kyogle will take on Murwillumbah at New Park, Kyogle.
Marist Brothers 6
Evans Head 6
Tweed Coast 0
Northern United 0
Byron Bay 0