‘Also-rans’ aim up in key clash
GRAFTON Redmen's President Cup team has been up against it from the start of the season.
Initially entered as a Third grade team, the Redmen were forced to play in the President's Cup due to a lack of participants.
Coach Marcus Chad said it was a difficult situation to deal with, and the club weren't expected to be competitive.
"We were the only Third grade team to say we'd step up," Chad said.
"Other teams are made up of a variety of First and Second grade players while we were a bunch of older blokes that are past our prime.
"We were looked at as the easy beats of the competition and weren't expected to win a game."
Now, as the injury-hit team prepares for the preliminary final, Chad's men are having the final laugh.
"We beat almost everyone and even led the comp at one stage," Chad said.
"Someone all of a sudden decided we were the team to beat."
It hasn't been an easy road for the Redmen, with the pool of players to choose from shrinking from week to week.
"Of our 22 at the beginning of the season, 15 are out injured," he said.
"We lost six players last week - four of which are definitely out this week.
"It makes it pretty difficult but we've managed to come this far."
With so many players unavailable, the mix of Redmen is now as wide as it could possibly be.
"We've got a lot of experienced heads in the forwards but we're all getting past our prime," he said.
"Then we've got a group of 17 year olds filling the gaps - we're a mix for sure.
"Matt Muller, for example, played all year with the Ghosts and now we've got him floating between wing and fullback."
The diversity and skill of the team shines through when the whole picture is considered.
How a team that started as a Third grade side can take on - and beat - First and Second grade players from other regions is a testament to rugby's' strength in Grafton.
But with so many injuries, something is sure to give way.
This weekend it's the game plans turn.
"We're not travelling with one," Chad said.
"There's just too many changes and it's that late in the season it's a matter of playing what's thrown at us on the day.
"We'll look to our forwards to aim up and lay a platform for the backs to take control."
The Redmen play Byron Bay at Crozier Field, Lismore, today at 1pm.