Ton-up for Ben as he leads Ghosts' finals charge
GRAFTON Ghosts' 18th centurion is a hard-hitting, no-nonsense forward with an off-field reputation as one of the finest stirrers in the team.
Ben McLennan has spent almost all of his career at the Ghosts, with half a season in the Parramatta Eels Holden Cup team in 2008.
His time with the Eels proved he has the ability to star at the highest level, but his time was cut short because of off-field issues.
"I never liked living in the city," McLennan said.
"The hardest part was just being away from my mates. Everyone else was coming back to the Ghosts and I did as well."
It ended up being a good move for the now 24-year-old, as he played a big role in the Ghosts' last two premierships.
There is no greater moment in McLennan's career than 2010, when the lock was part of the undefeated premiership and Clayton Cup-winning Ghosts.
McLennan said 2010 would have to be the highlight. "Playing with that group of guys was awesome. They're probably one of the best Ghosts teams in history."
McLennan is under no illusion this season is not as easy as the Clayton Cup-winning years may have been, with the Ghosts fighting for premiership survival.
"We've been blooding quite a few players this year and the competition has definitely improved," McLennan said.
"I think we are lacking a bit of belief. We have the team to go all the way but just need to get winning."
Ghosts captain-coach Ryan Farrell described McLennan as the leader of the forward pack, and off-field "Ben is a bit of a stirrer", he said. "He is our forward leader on the field and whacks up in defence.
"He leaves town every year after footy season, gets bored and comes back just in time for the next one to start."
The Ghosts play Byron Bay Red Devils at Frank McGuren Field today for a place in the preliminary final.
Last week's 26-10 loss to Ballina could leave the Ghosts vulnerable, but McLennan said it would do the opposite.
"The loss was probably a good thing. We'll be ready for them," McLennan said.
Farrell echoed his comments.
"We are a bit embarrassed with how we went last week so we'll be out to turn that around," he said.