FROM THE VAULT: Giant Rebels prop Xavier Sullivan stands over his Ghosts opposite number with skipper Stevie Kirby buried underneath in a match a few years ago.
FROM THE VAULT: Giant Rebels prop Xavier Sullivan stands over his Ghosts opposite number with skipper Stevie Kirby buried underneath in a match a few years ago.

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By TONY WHITE

twhite@dailyexaminer.com.au

BIG Xavier Sullivan expects to be a marked man when the South Grafton Rebels take on Grafton Ghosts before an expected large crowd at McKittrick Park in the local rugby league derby tomorrow.

The man mountain however is more than a one dimensional player and has a few surprises in store for would be Ghosts defenders.

Sullivan is far more than simply a bash and barge merchant. The big man's ball skills have added a new dimension to his game.

"Since the start of the year I've been working hard with Stevie Kirby on second phase play," Sullivan said.

"I've been getting a few balls away and the likes of Andy Bell, Dallas Waters and Stevie have been running off me. It seems to be working well.

"And I've worked hard on increasing my leg speed. When I hit the line I try and keep pumping, 50 per cent of the time tacklers will drop off and you can break the tackle."

The clash between Sullivan and Ghosts never say die big man Matt Michael should rock the grandstand.

While the Rebels will start warm favourites in the match celebrating South Grafton's 90 year anniversary -- their strike power out wide is awesome when set alight -- Sullivan isn't under estimating the Northern Rivers Rugby League cellar dwellers.

"I can assure everyone we won't be taking them (Ghosts) lightly," Sullivan said.

"At the start of the year they looked like one of the better sides, but they had a lot of injuries and their form dropped off.

"With the 90th celebrations and with a lot of past Rebels players watching it will be a really big thing.

"I've played with a number of clubs in league and union but never in anything like this (Sunday)."

The Ghosts, under Matt McKee, will be out to spoil the Rebels party.

If ever the beleaguered team had reason to rise to the occasion it is Sunday.

Ghosts captain Phil Warby has switched to wing this weekend with Warwick Brown moving to centre alongside Peter Young.

Andy Bell has been named first grade five-eighth for the Rebels with Ray Mercy returning to inside centre to partner Paul Donovan.

SOUTH GRAFTON: Fullback, Walter Donnelly; wingers, Dan Randall, Dave Purcell; centres, Paul Donovan, Ray Mercy; five-eighth, Andy Bell; halfback, Dallas Waters; props, Xavier Sullivan, Scott Laurie; hooker, Stevie Kirby (c); second-rowers, Colby Schrader, Jack Currie; lock, Shannon Cromelin; interchange, Kevin Blanch. Coach: Stevie Kirby.

GRAFTON GHOSTS: Fullback, Chris Adamson; wingers, Joel Pearce, Phil Warby; centres, Peter Young, Warwick Brown; five-eighth, Brad Johnson; halfback, Jason Vidler; props, Matt Michael, Mitch Cooper; hooker, Shane Denshire; second-rowers, Nick Brotherson, Jeremy Fahey; lock, Josh Ryder. Coach: Matt McKee.



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