Casino Cougars lock Chris McGrath will look to make an impact off the bench tomorrow afternoon.
Casino Cougars lock Chris McGrath will look to make an impact off the bench tomorrow afternoon. Jerad Williams

Scott's tough test

CASINO front-rower Luke Scott knew it was never going to be easy when he returned to the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League competition this season.

Scott missed the entire 2011 season and started fresh at the Cougars this year after a stint with the Mullumbimby Giants.

And tomorrow he will face his toughest test of the season, against reigning premiers the Grafton Ghosts at Queen Elizabeth Park, Casino.

It's the Cougars' first home game of the season and they are eager to register their first win after tough losses to Evans Head and the Kyogle Turkeys in the opening two rounds.

"Ghosts are always the benchmark, but we don't fear them," Scott said.

"All roads lead to Grafton eventually and to win the competition we would have to beat them anyway."

Casino has a new English halfback, Nathan Conroy, who will be all the better after his first hit-out last weekend.

"He did well for his first game on a hot autumn afternoon in Kyogle," Scott said.

"As a side we're still finding our feet and working on a new style of play.

"It's been fun playing with the big country kids and guys like Damian Benn and Todd Johnson rip in every week."

Lock Chris McGrath comes on to an extended bench.

Scott played more than 30 games for the North Queensland Cowboys in the NRL before a stint with the Redcliffe Dolphins in the Queensland Cup.

Casino captain Scott Gibson, 26, is also enjoying his first season back in the local competition after an extended break from the game.

He isn't prepared to press the panic button yet either.

"It's not dire straits yet because of the way the competition works," Gibson said.

"We're looking forward to playing Evans Head and Kyogle at home in a few weeks.

"And as for Grafton, these are the games you look forward to playing the most.

"There is a bit of pressure there as captain but you just have to try to enjoy it.

"We've worked on some simple things like ball control and a few guys have addressed some individual parts of their game."

Grafton captain-coach Ryan Farrell has plenty of options and expects a big performance from his men this weekend.

The Ghosts had the bye in the first round and made light work of Evans Head with a 56-6 drubbing last weekend.

"We have plenty of depth and all the boys just want to be out on the field," Farrell said.

Kick-off is 2.45pm.


Casino Cougars: 1 Te Ate Jackson, 2 Ben Birney, 3 TBA 4 Kurt Rutley, 5 Rohan Hyde, 6 Matt Roberts, 7 Nathan Conroy, 8 Luke Scott, 9 Scott Gibson, 10 Jacob Mayer, 11 Todd Johnson, 12 Damien Benn, 13 Caleb McIntyre.

Grafton Ghosts: 1 Mitch Lollback, 2 Sam Hartmann, 3 Khan Williams, 4 Aaron Taylor, 5 Dan Lollback, 6 Dan Roberts, 7 Ryan Farrell, 8 Mitchell Wicks, 9 Rhys Walters, 10 Dave Emmott, 11 Ryan Danvers, 12 Aaron Hartmann, 13 Josh Donahue.

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