EXPERIENCE BOOST: South Grafton Rebels will welcome former halfback Ant Cowan back to the first grade side this weekend after he had been playing in Sydney for the Redfern All Blacks this season.
EXPERIENCE BOOST: South Grafton Rebels will welcome former halfback Ant Cowan back to the first grade side this weekend after he had been playing in Sydney for the Redfern All Blacks this season. Debrah Novak

Cowan return to give Rebels consistency

RUGBY LEAGUE: A familiar face is to return to McKittrick Park for the South Grafton Rebels as Ant Cowan steps back in to the red and white as the club makes a late charge to the Group 2 first grade finals.

Cowan has not played for the Rebels since steering the side to a win in the 2015 grand final against Coffs Harbour, and becomes the fifth player to pull on the number seven jersey for the side this season.

It has been a tumultuous season for the Rebels halves, and is the major cause for the side's lack of consistency on the field this season.

But with the experience of Cowan returning to the field to partner the youthful talent of Allan McKenzie in the halves, coach Ron Gordon is hoping it will turn the club's fortunes around.

"You don't find too many bush footballers with the experience of Ant Cowan," he said.

"He has won premierships in Group 2 and Group 3, and he helped the Rebels win our first premiership in 43 years.

"At the end of the day we needed a player to fill the space. We were up s--- creek when Phil (Bundock) left us."

Bundock made his departure official with the club last week after he failed to show for several games in a row.

He added his name to a long list which included at least nine potential first graders who have left the club's playing ranks this season through injury or other commitments.

It is something Gordon said his side has come to terms with this season, and he remained confident the side could continue its winning ways against Sawtell Panthers tomorrow.

The Rebels got back to basics against Nambucca Heads Roosters last weekend, and Gordon said the happiness had returned to the side.

"It has been one of those seasons, but the boys really started to play a good brand of football last weekend," he said.

"Having Luke Welch back made a big difference, and hopefully we can find that consistency again this week.

"We have beaten Sawtell once before down at their home ground and they had been undefeated up to that point. Now we get the chance to do it on our home ground."

The Rebels expect to train this afternoon after missing a session on Thursday.



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