Grafton's Adam Slater let's out a war cry during the 2018 Group 2 first grade preliminary final between Grafton Ghosts and Macksville Sea Eagles at Frank McGuren Field.
Grafton's Adam Slater let's out a war cry during the 2018 Group 2 first grade preliminary final between Grafton Ghosts and Macksville Sea Eagles at Frank McGuren Field.

Clarence rugby league stars turn to NRRRL for game time

A NUMBER of Grafton Ghosts stars have had to look elsewhere for game time after Group 2 was forced to call off the 2020 season early in July.

The Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League competition was the logical move, as senior and under-18 players have taken up temporary spots in sides throughout the region.

First graders Rhys Hambly and Adam Slater took to the field for the Bryon Bay Red Devils reserve grade team as they hosted the Codgen Hornets in round 1.

Some of Grafton's hottest young prospects had their first run on the weekend as under-18 Ghosts star Hayden Ensbey joined South Grafton Rebels' Jordan Gallagher for Casino Cougars, going up against talented Ghost Elliot Speed lining up for Marist Brothers under-18s.

Grafton Ghost under-18 star Elliot Speed puts in a kick against the Sawtell Panthers last year.
Grafton Ghost under-18 star Elliot Speed puts in a kick against the Sawtell Panthers last year.

Speed's Marist Brothers came away with a 20-16 win in Casino but father and former Ghosts coach Col Speed said it was strange to see his son in different colours.

"Seeing my son not being able to play under-18s here is tough. COVID-19 had an effect, I understand that, but there was no 18s even before that," Col said.

"Elliot went to the Marist Brothers and they've been very welcoming. I don't blame them for wanting to play the game they love."

North Coast Bulldogs player Hayden Ensbey during an under-18 clash between the Grafton Ghosts and Woolgoolga Seahorses at Frank McGuren Field in 2019.
North Coast Bulldogs player Hayden Ensbey during an under-18 clash between the Grafton Ghosts and Woolgoolga Seahorses at Frank McGuren Field in 2019.

Elliot and Ensbey have built a strong relationship both on and off the field after playing for both the Ghosts and the North Coast Bulldogs together, but Col said it was hard to see the former teammates going against each other.

"It was tough sitting with the Ensby family and have our son's play for different sides," he said.

"While it is a good opportunity for them to play footy for the rest of the season and meet new friends through sport, it's bitterly disappointed their not playing together with a Grafton team."

As the season rolls on, there is every possibility we will start seeing more Ghosts, Rebels and Lower Clarence Magpies players representing NRRRL clubs for 2020.



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