CAPTAINS CONTRBUTION: Welch (middle frame ) is always up for a tackle in the middle of the park.
CAPTAINS CONTRBUTION: Welch (middle frame ) is always up for a tackle in the middle of the park. Mitchell Keenan

Captain Welch set for return in pivotal Panthers clash

THE South Grafton Rebels may be winning at the moment but it's clear the side is missing a leader out on the field.

Club captain Luke Welch is the type of player that puts his head down and leads through actions and the Rebels have been lacking that driving force after two scrappy wins against the bottom two sides in the competition.

Welch has been out of action after receiving a fractured eye-socket early last month but the hard-working second rower looks likely to make his return to the squad for a key clash with the Sawtell Panthers at McKittrick Park on Sunday.

"I'll be happy to get back out there and help the team out.”

"Watching from the sidelines hasn't been the most enjoyable experience, it's good to get a different point of view of the game but I'd rather be out there and I'm hoping to return this weekend.”

"It's going to be interesting, it'll help us gauge where we're at playing some of the top contenders over these next two weeks.”

"We need to put our finals hat on and start thinking about that next level of footy.”

"These next two teams are potential side we could be playing in the finals so it'll be a good test on seeing where they're at and how we compare. The opposition we face is only going to get stronger and stronger.”

Young guys and new plays.

"It's good to see some of the young guys getting a crack, they're earning their right to play in the first grade side and they've been building up to it with solid performances in the under-18's and it's good for their game.”

Grant Stevens out with fractured eye socket in head clash last weekend in Bellingen.

"He's had a fracture in three places so he's out at the moment which is a bit coincidental with me returning from the same injury.”

"It's come at a pretty bad time coming in to finals but with some luck he might make it back in a couple of weeks.”

"No one likes losing, that's why we all play, to be competitive.”

The Rebels edged the Panthers 19-18 in the closing moments through an Allan McKenzie field goal when they faced off in round 6 and Welch expects another battle at McKittrick Park.

"It's definitely going to be competitive, both Sawtell and us are going to want the win coming in to the finals. They're fighting for their spot and so are we and they're a quality side so it'll be a tough game.”

"If we don't perform in these last couple of games then we're not going to be around for the final dance so we need to start performing now and keep it going.”


1. Mike Rigg

2. Tim Rigg

3. Lional Williams

4. Oral Monaghan

5. Austin Cooper

6. Hughie Stanley

7. Allan Mackenzie

8. George Jarrett

9. Luke Walker

10. Jeff Skeen

11. Grant Brown

12. Lewis Cooper

13. Luke Welch (c)

14. Nic McGrady

15. Rowan Hardy

16. TBA

17. TBA

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