LOCKED IN: Grafton Ghosts' Ben McLennan is an early favourite to take out the King of the River Steer Challenge after winning the inaugural two events.
LOCKED IN: Grafton Ghosts' Ben McLennan is an early favourite to take out the King of the River Steer Challenge after winning the inaugural two events. Adam Hourigan Photography

Cricketers step up to battle

RODEO: The age-old battle between summer and winter sport will be front and centre at the Maclean Twilight Rodeo tonight as cricket and rugby league go head to head on steers.

The King of the River Steer Challenge has been an entertaining part of the rodeo program for two years as local league clubs took on each other in the ring.

But Lawrence Rodeo Committee - organisers of the event - chairman Bruce Green said it was time to expand the competition to include another crop of tough sports stars.

"These cricket boys think they are tough, so we are giving them a chance to prove it," Green said. "Mind you, the footballers think they are just that much tougher.

"It is going to be on for young and old between these two mobs."

The cricket side, organised by honorary coach Nathan Ensbey, will include Harwood's Jacob McMahon, Maclean United skipper Jarrad Moran, South Services' Luke Sullivan and Brothers' Wayne Lentfer.

The league team are playing their cards a little closer to the chest, with Grafton Ghosts trio Ben McLennan, Danny Wicks and Todd Cameron to be joined by a mystery rider.

But no matter who the final rider is for the league side, Ensbey said his team of riders would come ready for a battle.

"Us cricket boys are pumped for this night," he said. "All the money goes to charities and not-for-profits so it is good for our sports to chip in and help out.

"Our team is full of talent. Jarrad Moran is an experienced steer rider and I think he will be the glue that holds the team together, along with the cowboy Wayne Lentfer.

"Luke Sullivan is also getting the opportunity to live out his boyhood dream, while Jacob has got plenty of practice riding before."

But it is not going to be an easy task for Ensbey's men with many bullriding experts tipping another strong effort from McLennan and his men.

The Lawrence native is shooting for his third straight crown in the challenge after being the only competitor to last eight seconds last year. But that is not stopping Ensbey from firing a few early shots.

"McLennan reckons he is a deadest cowboy, so we are out to prove him wrong."

Despite the strong words from the cricketers' camp, Green still believes the footballers will be just "too hard" to overcome.

"I back the footballers, especially with Benny on board," Green said. "That experience is just too hard to look past.

"But I know it is going to be a bit of excitement and fun to keep the crowd entertained."

The King of the River Challenge will be the first event on the program after the intermission break during what is set to be an action-packed night at the Maclean Showgrounds, which starts 6pm.



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