United take tormentor
ONLY two weeks after their heart-wrenching 21-20 Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League grand final loss to Lower Clarence, Northern United will be back on the field, this time for the NSW Aboriginal Knockout at Armidale.
Ironically, the man who sunk the Dirawongs in the grand final with a late field goal, Lower fullback Grant Brown, will played for United in the prestigious carnival that draws the best and brightest Indigenous footballers in the NRL and Bush footy.
“He's actually played for us the past four years at the knockout,” United coach Chris Binge said.
“It's pretty funny, all the boys have been calling him Mr One-Pointer at training.
“We have no problem with him playing and I guess if anyone had to kick that winning field goal at least it was him.”
United will head into the Knockout, which is expected to draw more than 50 teams, as one of the favourites considering most of their squad of 25 have played together all season.
“I guess that's our biggest bonus, that we have played together all year and not just been thrown together in the past couple of weeks,” Binge said.
“We also have some extra players in the squad.”
The Dirawongs have had their stocks bolstered by Tyrone Roberts (Knights), Ally Beale (Panthers) and Chris Binge (Broncos), all joining the squad from NRL teams or their feeder clubs.
Former Kyogle halfback Michael Walker and Casino prop Clint Torrens have also joined United for the Knockout along with Group Four player of the year Brenton Cochrane, a former Ballina utility.
While United are favoured to do well, one of their main obstacles will be Walgett BAC, which has lured NRL stars Jamahl Idris (Bulldogs), George Rose (Sea Eagles) and Ben Jones (Roosters).
Prizemoney for the winner-takes-all carnival could top $50,000.
“If we win the final, clubs around here better look out because we will be looking to spend it on players,” Binge said.