OFTEN you hear about how alcohol ruins lives, but here's a case where it may have saved one.

English prop Dave Emmott has been with the Grafton Ghosts' forward pack since 2009, forming the lynchpin of the engine room in their back-to-back premierships.

But in 2013 Emmott was nowhere to be seen.

"I had a few beers one weekend and .... I just blew up ... couldn't process it," Emmott said.

Those few beers Emmott enjoyed revealed a truth so disconcerting he stayed away from the footy field.

The man from English town Keighley said he suffered from an auto-immune disease.

"It means I have to take hormone tablets once a day... for the rest of my life," Emmott said of the treatment.

"It's been going on a few years now.

"I took last year off footy and put on a bit of weight," he said.

If you were at Ghosts' Sunday's 48-10 win over Sawtell Panthers you would not have any clue Emmott had anything holding him back.

Some commentators said he had actually improved his game since learning of the problem.

Emmott might have started the season in reserve grade but it will hard to see him dropped back after his performance.

When the Ghosts needed a big run it was Emmott charging onto the ball with a full head of steam and smashing into the Sawtell defence.

Every kickoff seemed to find Emmott's side of the field and he would duly take the first hit-up, and back up just two tackles later for another chance at breaking the line.

It's easy to see why former head coach Col Speed was keen to get him to the club in 2009.

"Another bloke at the club I was with over there, Chris Parker, had played out here in 1999 and said he'd get in touch to see if they wanted me," Emmott said.

"Speedy got back and asked me to send a DVD over of me playing and a few weeks later I was on the plane."

Ghosts captain-coach Ryan Farrell said Emmott had an enormous game, and singled out Khan Williams as "playing his best game of the season so far".

It's a level of intensity and commitment they need to continue right up until August 24 - the Group 2 grand final.

"If we keep working on the little things we should get there," Emmott said.

"We've been disappointed the last few years and I think that'll just push us further."

Sawtell pinched the first win of the day in under-18s, sneaking home 32-30. Ghosts won reserve grade 28-16.

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