REBELS UP TO SPEED
By TONY WHITE
THE 'Dune Buggy's' back and watch out predicts Rebels captain-coach, Stevie Kirby.
Dune Buggy, alias Doug Walker, returns to the top grade for the first time this season when South Grafton Rebels host Kyogle Turkeys at McKittrick Park in round three of the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League competition tonight.
Walker will play fullback in the undefeated Rebels side.
"Doug's been back in training for several weeks and working the place down," Kirby said.
"He's keen as mustard. I'm really expecting him to make a big impact."
Walker, a try-scoring machine, played the latter part of last season in the Rebels reserve grade side that met grand final defeat in overtime against Ballina.
Walker replaces Ken Laurie at fullback. Laurie reverts to wing.
Utility Paul Donovan, one of the club's leading player's last year, also makes his return to first grade at centre replacing Walter Donnelly who has family commitments this weekend.
"It's great to have Paul back, he's a class player," Kirby said.
And in a further change to the Rebels side that last week beat Lower Clarence 38-14, Under-18s halfback Josh Nagle will turn out in first grade.
"He gets his chance in the top grade," Kirby said. "He's been playing really well and deserves a run."
Last week's half Andy Bell is sidelined with a thigh muscle injury and regular half Dallas Waters is still out with shoulder problems.
The Rebels have firepower right across the park with an array of player's capable of scoring multiple tries.
"We've got a side on the field with a lot of big names and players that are capable of scoring trys at any time," Kirby said. "But our main focus is still on defence.
"Our defensive discipline is getting better. This year I think the for and against totals will be really important and we know we can score tries, it's a matter of stopping the opposition from scoring."
Kirby is not expecting a high scoring game tonight.
"Kyogle are a good defensive unit," he said.
"We'll get our big boys to lay the platform up front and let the backs do the scoring."
Kyogle are coached this year by Brad Purtell.
Coincidentally Purtell's uncle Brian Purtell, a legend in the Kyogle area, was the last successful Kyogle captaincoach to win the premiership in 1983.
"It was through Brian that I came up from Albury," Purtell said. "I played with the club last year and I've been happy to take over the captain-coach role.
"The boys played really well last week (Kyogle defeated Casino 32-6), we owed them one from beating us in the trial."
Purtell suggested the likes of representative back rower Kristian Mene, smart hooker Simon Pederson and strong five-eighth Phil Charles, would be the mainstays of the side.
SOUTH GRAFTON: Fullback, Doug Walker; wingers, Dave Purcell, Ken Laurie; centres, Paul Donovan, Ken Mercy; five-eighth, Ray Mercy; halfback, Josh Nagle; props, Xavier Sullivan, Nathan Kelly; hooker, Stevie Kirby (c); second row, Brad Lloyd, Scott Laurie; lock, Colby Shraeder; reserve, Dennis Carriage. Coach: Stevie Kriby.
KYOGLE: Fullback, Zac Royal; wingers, Shannon Walker, Ryan Daley; centres, Athol Williams, Zeke Walker; five-eighth, Phil Charles; halfback, Sam Daley; props, David Mulchay (c), Kristian Mene; hooker, Simon Pederson; second-row, Joe Painter, Brent McBride; lock, Josh Foley. Coach: Brad Purtell.