All guns blazin in league clash
RUGBY league dressing sheds can be an eerie place.
It’s where footballers psyche themselves up for the battle ahead.
Lower Clarence Magpies captain Xavier Sullivan will be in unfamiliar territory when his team clashes with the Grafton Rhinos at McKittrick Park tomorrow.
Sullivan has never set foot in the visitors’ change room, but on Sunday the former Rhinos captain will lead his team out of the sheds against his former club.
“I was actually talking to my wife, Clare, the other night and it will be the first time since I moved to Grafton that I’ll have to run out of the visitor’s dressing room,” Sullivan said.
“I moved to Grafton when I was 10 and have always run out of the home-side shed in junior and senior footy.”
Not only will unfamiliar surroundings be on Sullivan’s mind, but lining up against his former club will be a whole new experience, the big front-rower says.
“It will be strange playing against my old club,” he said.
“It’s always difficult going to another team but the (Rhinos’) executive committee have made their bed and now have to lie in it.
“I will certainly be doing my best to get the two points on the day.”
Asked if he would be targeted by his former teammates, Sullivan said he was in no doubt he would come in for some special attention in the local derby.
“I’m sure they’ll target me. Every time you play against your mates it’s always a dominance thing,” he said.
“I’m sure the boys will try to square up on a few training runs when they might have been pushed a bit over the last couple of years.
“There’s no angst between me and the players.
“It wasn’t their decision not to pay me.
“I still catch up with a few of them and they come and have a drink at the hotel.”
The Magpies captain said after being at the helm of the Rhinos for the past two years he had got to know the players’ strengths and weaknesses
“We’ve discussed what each individual player brings but we found out against the Ghosts last game we are more concerned about how we are playing,” he said.
Sullivan admitted he had been looking forward to tomorrow’s blockbuster, as are former Rhinos backs Todd Cameron and Joel Moss.
“I’m looking forward to Sunday’s match and I know Toddy and Joel are jumping out of their skin to play,” Sullivan said.
“Todd and Joel are keen to put their mark on the game and show the Rhinos what they’ve actually lost.”
Rhinos coach Shaun Fathers said his team had not mentioned Sullivan at training all week.
“I can honestly say there hasn’t been one word about him,” Fathers said.
When contacted by the Examiner yesterday Rhinos captain Steve Kirby refused to comment.