Waters clear to play final: coach

NORTHERN United flyer Fred Waters will be available for this Sunday's Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League grand final despite being rushed to hospital after suffering a head knock in Sunday's victory over Mullumbimby.

Waters, who scored 38 tries for the Dirawongs this season, banged his head against the ground attempting to dive for a loose ball that could have resulted in a try.

The centre was in such a bad way that he was taken to hospital but according to coach Chris Binge he is certain to play this Sunday.

“He's fine. That was just precautionary so we'll be at 100 per cent,” Binge said.

The preliminary final victory was Waters' first game back since he scored eight tries against Marist Brothers in the final round of the season.

That tally enabled him to notch 38 tries for the season, which many believed meant he clinched the try-scoring record for the NRRRL and the old Group One competition.

However, it has since come to light that Waters has equalled the mark, rather than creating a new record.

The NRRRL last night confirmed former Ballina fullback Shaun Laurie also scored 38 tries, his feat coming in the 2002 season.

Laurie told The Northern Star yesterday he thought he scored 38 tries for the Seagulls that year, including an eight-try haul against Kyogle.

Former Grafton Daily Examiner journalist and Group One statistician Max Godbee said he recorded Laurie scoring 38 tries in the 2002 season.

“By my records he scored 38 tries, kicked 100 goals and one field goal for a tally of 353 points,” Godbee said.

“Paul Latta from Marist Brothers won the pointscoring award with 362 points. He scored 31 tries and kicked 119 goals.”

And Laurie said he thought his uncle, Mark Laurie, held the previous try-scoring record.

Mark Laurie scored 37 tries in 1994 while playing for South Grafton in the old Group One competition.

Meanwhile, one of the competition's smallest players has won the NRRRL player of the year competition.

Unheralded Tweed Coast Raiders utility Reece Sandy, who only stands at 1.7m and weighs about 60kg, took out the main prize at the recent NRRRL awards night at the Italo-Australian Club in Lismore.

Sandy (21pts), streeted the field to win by seven points from Mullumbimby pair Chase Nelson and Andrew Moroney in equal second spot on 14 points.

“I was pretty surprised when I found out,” the 23-year-old said.

“When I found out I was leading a few weeks ago I was shocked. Our team wasn't one of the frontrunners.”

It was Sandy's first year with the Raiders, having grown up playing for South Tweed just up the road.

He may well return to play to the Koalas if they can re-start the club in the Gold Coast competition next year.

“I'm very honoured to have the won award,” Sandy said. “I've played football for 15 years so to win recognition from the whole group is something I'm very proud about.”

Indeed, the award is the first for the tough little utility whose only representative jumpers come from a season with rugby union club Randwick in the first grade Sydney colts competition a few years ago.

Normally a halfback, Sandy was forced to play hooker and five-eighth with the Raiders as captain-coach Nathan Jordan was the established number seven.

Ballina's Tyler Iverson won the reserve grade player of the year award by one point, while diminutive Northern United halfback Tim Green chalked another one up for the pint-sized brigade by claiming the under-18s award by a whopping 12 points.

Other awards included Kyogle's Blake Anderson winning the first grade rookie of the year and the junior representative player of the year awards. Waters won the most tries and highest pointscorer award with 38 tries and 200 points and Grafton's Aaron Taylor kicked the most goals with 59. United's Clarence Kelly was named the senior representative player of the year.

Other awards included: reserve grade - Anthony Robinson most tries (23); under-18s - Bernie Donnelly Memorial Award Jordan Walker; rookie of the year Cody McKenna; and most tries Fred Pitt (18).

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