Good news for Rebels rebuilding for the 2006 season

By TONY WHITE

THE South Grafton Rebels begin official training for 2006 at JJ Lawrence Fields at 6pm tonight.

New president Janita Cooper is looking to a strong roll up and players who have not registered to play this season can sign up at training.

Last Saturday the Rebels held a sign-on day and while numbers, particularly in the Under-18s were good, Cooper said she was hopeful of more senior players registering.

"We're just waiting to see who turns up tomorrow night before organising the grades," Cooper said yesterday.

The Rebels, under a new management committee, will sport a different firsts team this season with numerous top graders from 2005 electing to play with other clubs.

Ken Mercy and Dave Purcell have signed with Lower Clarence, last year's captain-coach Stevie Kirby and Brad Lloyd with Orara and man mountain Xavier Sullivan with Woolgoolga. Josh Nagle will play with Grafton Ghosts.

"Several players have decided to play elsewhere and we hold no ill-feeling," Cooper said.

"We want players who are committed to playing for the Rebels and to enjoy their football."

Due to financial constraints the Rebels will not appoint a reserve grade coach this season.

"Ray Mercy (first grade captain-coach) will be club coaching co-ordinator and he will appoint a reserve grade captain and others that will assist in training requirements," Cooper said.

"Dale Eamons will coach the Under-18s."

Cooper said the club settled outstanding player payments for 2005 last week and other accrued business debts from 2003 and 2004 left over from previous committees.

Outstanding player payments for 2004 would be finalised "some time later this year," Cooper said.

Good news for the Rebels was the signing of talented NRL-bound youngsters, Daniel Bligh and Cody Ellis for 2006.

Bligh has been signed by the Manly Sea Eagles and Ellis with Sydney Roosters, but the pair will play for the Rebels Under-18s this season.

Cooper said following discussions with Rebels 2004 captain-coach Paul Donovan, now with Orara, the Rebels will play a trial match against Orara Axemen in Grafton sometime in late February.



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