Titans to Rebels? rescue
By MAX GODBEE and TONY WHITE
SPIRITS were high at the South Grafton Rebels' training on Tuesday with news the new NRL club, the Gold Coast Titans, has thrown its weight behind the club.
The support will start immediately with the Titans' coach, former Penrith premiership player and star forward John Cartwright, coming to South Grafton today to meet players and officials, and more importantly, hold a training session for players in all three grades.
The Titans have also pledged to help the Rebels find a new first grade coach following Ray Mercy's decision to resign the post this week.
Rebels vice-president Robin Smith said legal complications prevented the Rebels committee from commenting on Mercy's shock departure.
"There could be litigation if we make any comment. All I can say is Ray Mercy is not able to fulfill his coaching commitments due to his work commitments."
Tonight's training run will be at the Rebels' temporary training ground, JJ Lawrence Field.
Cartwright will be followed next week by the Titans' team manager, Scott Sattler, who played a major role in Penrith's 2003 premiership win. Sattler will also conduct a training session with the Rebels.
Sattler will be accompanied by Gavin Judd, who is the Titans' coaching development officer.
The support from the Titans comes in response to a direct effort from South Grafton's legendary player and Group One junior coach, Phillip 'JB' Walsh, working through the NRL CEO and former Grafton High and St George winger, Geoff Carr.
Walsh said he had been concerned at negative publicity the Rebels had received some months ago, which led to a number of the club's players thinking the club was finished.
"I thought a lot about what I could do to rectify the position and decided to ring Geoff Carr to seek his advice," Walsh said.
"Geoff listened to what I had to say and then said 'leave it with me and I will get back to you'.
"He rang me on Monday saying he had discussed the situation at length with the Gold Coast Titans CEO, Michael Searle, who said the Titans' committee was concerned about our dilemma and he would like me to ring him.
"I did just that as soon as I heard the news and was thrilled with what Searle had to say.
"He told me that John Cartwright would be coming down this week to meet with the club's players and officials and Scott Sattler and Gavin Judd would follow next week.
"Searle also said that the Titans could probably find an ideal new first grade coach for us."
Walsh said the Titans had offered to hold a money raising function for South Grafton during the season and ensure there was football memorabilia supplied to offer for sale and for auction. The Titans had also pledged additional support for the Rebels as the season progressed.
"This is great news and we can start talking positives," Smith told the gathering on Tuesday.
"Some of those players who have been sitting on the fence waiting to see what was happening may now return to the Rebels and there is no reason why we should not be able to pick up a number of new players. It is a great chance for them."
Arch rivals South Grafton and Grafton Ghosts clash in trial games at Frank McGuren Field on Saturday.