IF THERE is one guy who knows all about Daily Examiner Rugby League, it's Matt McKee.
The South Grafton High physical education teacher says he gets excited at this time of the year, even though organising the event takes up a huge slice of his time.
McKee has fond memories of playing school footy with his mates, but there's one game he would like to erase from his memory.
"I always played rugby league at school and I remember like it was yesterday, the last time I played in the DEX Shield," McKee recalled.
"It was in 1991 and I was playing for McAuley against Maclean High, who had (former NRL player) Nathan Brown in their side. They beat us 22-14 and I remember I kicked the ball down field and it was charged down by a bloke named Ferguson.
"He regathered and sprinted the length of the field to score. I don't have too many fond memories of that particular game."
Tonight at McKittrick Park some of the best junior league players in the Clarence will be showcasing their skills when the first semi-finals of the DEX Shield kick off.
Maclean High and South Grafton High clash in the boys' open, while in the 14s Maclean and Grafton High will go head-to-head.
Next Wednesday Grafton High and McAuley Catholic College do battle in the opens, with South High and McAuley up against each other in the 14s.
"We have four teams competing in both the opens and under-14s and I'm still working on getting the Primary School Cup up and running," McKee said.
"We're looking at running the finals on Wednesday, June 27, which promises to be a huge night, with plenty of exciting footy being played."
McKee enjoys organising the event and admits seeing potential stars of the game run out on to the field gives him a great sense of satisfaction
"I just want to keep the sport going in the schools," he said. "Each school has a lot of pride and we're producing some quality players.
"Steve Gillett played for the Titans Toyota Cup side a few seasons ago and Luke Douglas also played Daily Examiner Shield.
"I remember when I was going to school in Year 7 there was about 4000 people at the final."
McKee said South High gun five-eighth Ethan Roberts would most likely be unavailable for the DEX Shield because of representative commitments.
"I don't think Ethan is playing. He's only 15 and he'd have to play opens. Also, his mother thought having a rest would be the right thing to do with representative games coming up."