Trouble in the Magpies? nest
By TONY WHITE
INTERNAL problems have beset Lower Clarence in the lead up to tomorrow's Terry Randall Memorial Shield local derby clash against Grafton Ghosts at Maclean Showground.
Magpies president Gary Anderson acknowledged yesterday only limited numbers of senior players had turned up to training over the past two weeks, putting pressure on management, coaching staff and loyal players.
Anderson said the club's management has devised a plan to rectify the situation as soon as possible.
"Yes there has been an internal problem in attendance at training," Anderson said.
"Over a four-week period we will be selecting teams from players who attend training on Tuesday and Thursday. It may not be the best team available from the players we have registered, but we're quite happy to support the players who are supporting the club.
"Our plan is to get everyone together as soon as possible, coaching staff, the committee, players, have a good talk, explain how this football club is going to be run and sort this whole thing out."
Anderson and the Lower Clarence committee are determined to sort the matter out as quickly as possible to stop the rot setting in and get the club back on track after a promising start to the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League season.
First grade coach Jason Wilkinson said due to the frustrating problem with numbers, naming a side had proved difficult.
"We've got quite a few players from the Grafton area and hopefully playing a local derby will mean something to all the players," Wilkinson said.
"Local derbies are the best games to play in and this is for the Terry Randall Shield.
"Last week was just a terrible day, from the bus breaking down to injuries and it was one of those day's you'd like to forget about as quickly as possible."
The Magpies were caned 62-12 by premiership front runners Cudgen.
Several changes have been made including Dane Walker at fullback, Ben Campbell at hooker and Daniel Cowling at lock.
Ken Mercy, sent off on a high tackle charge against Cudgen, was given a two week suspended sentence by the judiciary and cleared to play against Grafton.
Anderson also indicated Lower had held discussions with talented Mike Randall and former South Grafton captain-coach Ray Mercy, now playing with Grafton Redmen in union.
Both players are seeking releases from the Rebels.
Tomorrow should be a great clash with traditional rivals, Grafton Ghosts.
Since the inception of the Terry Randall Shield three years ago, named after the Magpies stalwart and community leader, the score is one-all.
Last season the Ghosts beat the Magpies for the Shield in the opening round, ironically the only win posted by Grafton throughout the season.
The Ghosts, still searching for their first win of the season, have made changes.
Former South Grafton player, utility back Andy Bell, has been named at half back with Josh Nagle going to hooker. Injuries have forced Kyle Walters and Peter Young out and Will Hickey comes in on the wing with hooker Aaron Marscham switching to centre.
"We're quietly confident we can win," Ghosts captain-coach Matt Michael said. "I think we can go out and put it to them. Traditionally Grafton always go well against Lower and it's all positive to get one up on them for the Shield."
Michael intends giving the side a hit out on Sunday morning in an attempt to get the players switched on for a full 80 minutes, the Ghosts nemisis to date this sea- son.
GRAFTON GHOSTS: Fullback, Chris Adamson; wingers, Will Hickey, Cameron Green; centres, Travis Daley, Aaron Marscham; five-eighth, Trent Lawrence; halfback, Andy Bell; props, Matt Michael (c), Sean Davison; hooker, Josh Nagle; second-row, Scott Kilduff, Tyson Donohue; lock, Josh Ryder; bench, Jason Vidler. Coach: Matt Michael.
LOWER CLARENCE: Fullback, Dave Walker; wingers, Dave Purcell, Ben McDonald; centres, Ken Mercy, Daniel Battersby; five-eighth, Aaron Murray; halfback, Jason Wilkinson (c); props, Mick Harris, Wayne Reed; hooker, ben Campbell; second-row, Tom Freebody, Ryan Binge; lock, Daniel Cowling. Coach: Jason Wilkinson.