Red Devils sneaking under the radar in NRRRL
SNEAKING under the radar will help Byron Bay rebound from a disappointing 2019 season where they underachieved in Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League.
That’s according to club president Ben Webber who also played in the Red Devils team which missed the semi-finals last season.
Most people expected Byron Bay to push for the premiership after the arrival of former NRL star Todd Carney as captain-coach.
Carney had his fair share of injuries while the rest of the team failed to live up to the hype of having a strong team on paper.
Byron Bay was also weighed down by an NRRRL points system which acted as a salary cap for bringing in players from outside the club.
It left them light-on for players and made it difficult to cover injuries with no bench.
Webber said they would continue to “roll with the punches” and that all players from last season have received a 25 per cent discount this season.
“There isn’t as much hype or expectation this season and for us that’s been a good thing,” he said.
“We’re happy to go under the radar and let other teams hype themselves up.
“Our nucleus from last season is here and we’ve just got our heads down doing the hard work at training.
“We came back to preseason training a bit later to avoid player burnout; a lot of our guys run their own businesses so we took that into account, too.
“I think Todd has a bit better feel for the competition now and he’s really keen to go.
“He’s doing some coaching work in Queensland and he brings a lot of energy to training.”
The Red Devils have retained hooker Andrew Battese and front-rower Dylan Montgomery while welcoming second-rower Justin Shillingsworth across from Northern United.
Premiership-winning winger Tom Merritt has returned to the club and Mick Foster will help as an assistant coach for a second straight year.
They have lost fullback Mitchell Krause and front-row trio Aidan, Kyle and Lachlan Kennedy who have returned to Marist Brothers.
Webber said they are busy trying to fill the gaps and expects more club juniors to come through this season.
“In previous years we’ve built from the top-down and we want to change that,” he said.
“We have a really good under-16s team and our under-18s made the semi-finals last year, too.”