Cossacks out to take a ‘second bite of the cherry’
RUGBY UNION: Iluka Cossacks may be the only Lower Clarence senior side left playing competitive footy this season, but that has only made them stronger.
Two wins and a loss puts Iluka right up among the league leaders in the Far North Coast Rugby Union Presidents Cup competition.
A strong core that went all the way to the grand final last year has been reinforced by a number of returning players from across the Clarence Valley.
South Grafton Rebels forwards Grant Brown and George Jarrett are just two of many to return to the Cossacks, while Lower Clarence Magpie Jacob Essex plays his first stint with Iluka.
Fierce rivals Yamba Buccaneers were forced to call off their 2020 campaign but a number of their players have also opted to help out in Iluka.
The Cossacks are coming off a dominant 48-7 home win over Tenterfield on Saturday but new coach Tony Wiseman said his side had to work hard for the result.
“Despite the scoreline the visitors gave us a real contest and we had to fight for every point. Our execution was the best it’s been this year,” Wiseman said.
“We know we can get better and we will continue to improve each week as the squad takes shape in this shorten season. Exciting times ahead for the Cossacks.”
Former coach Glen Ayres has taken a step back this year to focus on his business, but the Cossacks stalwart wants the club to return to the big dance after a strong finish in 2019.
“We’ve had a decent start to the season. We were all looking forward to getting back on the paddock and we’re keen to have a second bit of the cherry this year,” Ayres said.
“We’ve had a pretty solid group of blokes. A few hung boots up at the end of last year but we’ve had some guys move back to play.”
With just 10 games before finals, Ayres said it will be important to keep the results coming with some tough games ahead.
”We’ve got Kyogle this week so it’ll be good to get a full squad up there for a competitive game. It’s always tough at their home,” he said.
“We’ll need to pull it together on the road for the last couple of games. We’ll have a red hot crack this year but Presidents Cup is definitely stronger than it’s been the last few years.
“It’s more competitive with clubs like Southern Cross University and Byron adding sides. They’ve got some good players that have been playing proper grade rugby.”