Centre of attention
WHEN it comes to scoring four pointers there's no better person in the business than Grafton Rhinos centre Joe Ravueta.
Dubbed the ‘Fijian Flyer', Ravueta has an uncanny knack of finding the try line.
Ravueta scored close to 20 tries last season, busting tackles with his super-human strength and leaving defenders in his wake with his blistering speed.
It's a well known fact Ravueta is the Rhinos' go-to-man. In fact, when the Rhinos need that ‘something special' to ignite their attack invariably the ball is quickly shifted to their star centre.
But for some reason, when it comes to facing cross-town rivals the Grafton Ghosts, Ravueta fails to make an impact. So much so, finding inroads through the Ghosts' water-tight defence has so far proved mission impossible.
Last season when the two local sides met Ravueta was kept in check by Ghosts centre Aaron Hartmann. Hartmann is one of the best defensive centres in the competition and rarely misses a tackle.
Add a defensive structure second to none in the NRRRL and you can see why Ravueta's try-scoring opportunities against the Ghosts have been limited.
Let's face, it the Ghosts are a hard team to crack.
But with Hartmann being shunted into the forward pack this season, to give him more touches of the football, on Sunday's local derby Khan Williams has been given the task of keeping Ravueta quiet.
Not an easy assignment.
Williams, who is no stranger to scoring tries himself, has improved his defence in recent games and it appears he has left his ‘hit-and-miss' shoulder charges back in the dressing sheds.
Grafton first grade coach Col Speed says he is aware of the damage Ravueta is capable of on the field but adds he has no concerns about Williams' ability to get the job done defensively.
“Ravueta is definitely the Rhinos' key striking weapon,” Speed admits.
“We just have to limit his opportunities. I know if he's given space he can cause havoc but in saying that we don't go out there to mark one player; there are 12 others to worry about.
“As far as Khan goes I think a lot of credit should go to the work he has done on his defence over the past 12 months.
“Everyone knows he can score tries but he should also be given a rap for his defensive efforts.”
The Ghosts have one of the best defensive records in the competition which Speed puts down to communication under pressure.
“Apart from Khan, Ryan Farrell helps out on that side of the field and young Sam Hartmann is also defending well,” he says.
“It's all about communication which is something Ryan is very good at.”