Full Speed ahead
WHEN Grafton Ghosts coach Col Speed moved star centre Aaron Hartmann into the back row there were the inevitable cries of disbelief from the local league fraternity.
But in what has now proved to be a masterstroke on Speed's behalf, switching Hartmann closer to the action and replacing him out wide with point scoring wizard Aaron Taylor certainly paid dividends.
And it appears those in the know agree with the Ghosts' mentor after both Hartmann and Taylor were named in the NRRRL team of the year alongside teammates Rhys Walters and Dan Roberts.
Speed, who was dramatically snubbed as coach of the year in 2010, finally got the recognition he deserved, picking up the coach of the year award after guiding the Ghosts to back-to-back premierships.
"It's certainly nice to get some recognition," Speed said.
"The NRRRL presented me with a certificate and a shield which was a nice touch.
"This year was more satisfying than last year because we answered our critics."
After losing several key players from last season's premiership winning side questions were being asked if the Ghosts could repeat their 2010 heroics.
"I guess you could say we were red-hot favourites last year. We lost about six players from our talent pool but still managed to take out the title again," Speed said.
"Some people take us (Ghosts) for granted and say the players could coach themselves. But for me I couldn't have won the award without the coaching staff I had behind me."
Grand final winning captain and player of the match, Ghosts' halfback Ryan Farrell was a notable omission from the star-studded side as was the non-selection of back-rower Ben McLennan and rookie fullback Mitchell Lollback.
Farrell, in particular, was a standout in the number 7 jumper this season and was arguably the NRRRL's best player.
"It was disappointing not to hear Ryan's name read out," Speed said.
"We know what he does for us week in week out.
"Also I thought Ben McLennan was very unlucky not to make the side," he added.
Former NRL halfback and current Cudgen captain/coach Craig Field was named in the halves alongside Ghosts' five-eighth Dan Roberts.
"I suppose we only get to see Craig play two times a year so his form throughout the year is hard to judge," Speed said.
"But I wouldn't swap Ryan for anyone."
Grafton Rhinos' try-scoring machine Joe Ravueta capped-off another successful year after also being named in the side.
The Fijian flier proved almost unstoppable out wide with his blistering pace and powerful running style.
For Speed, coaching the Ghosts to a third premiership on the trot is not out of the question, that is if he decides to remain at the helm.
"At this stage I'm still under negotiations with the Ghosts," Speed said.
"We are still in talks with each other and I haven't made a commitment just yet."
The Grafton Ghosts' Presentation Night will be held this Saturday night at the Grafton District Services Club.