Grafton Ghosts sign marquee pair for 2014
HE HAS been one of the best players for the Lower Clarence Magpies for the past few seasons but for Ryan Binge, now it is a time for change.
Binge is the biggest new signing in the Ghosts' camp, and is champing at the bit to get onto the field.
"Different competition, different players and a new club - I'm looking forward to it," Binge said.
"I played my junior footy with Lower and only left for one year with Cessnock in the Newcastle competition.
"That was 2009 when the Magpies won the comp - I was gutted to miss out. Cessnock made the grand final as well that year but lost.
"I just wanted a change from Lower and the Ghosts offered just that."
Binge has only played prop during his time with the Magpies, spending the season at Cessnock in the second row.
"I'm looking forward to the challenge," Binge said.
"There's a whole lot less travel as well so that comes in handy."
The successful signing of Binge ends a long-term chase for his signature, with Farrell glad to finally have his man.
Binge will bring considerable size, power and general "go forward" to a Ghosts pack already overflowing with ability.
"We're pretty excited to finally get him," Farrell said.
"I know Speedy (2010-11 coach Col Speed) was after him and I've had a few chats with him in the past. We've been trying for a few years.
"We're keen to get him out there."
The acquisition of Binge could be the final piece to the forward pack puzzle, with at least four starting props fighting over the two spots.
He joins Tim Tilse, Neori Kurimalawai, Mitch Wicks, and Jarrad Day as the club's first grade quality front-rowers, a selection head
ache Farrell is glad to have.
"We've got quite a few good forwards coming through so there will be plenty of competition for spots," Farrell said.
"It means everyone will have to play at their best every week and that should lead to good results."
THE PULL of returning to his first club and playing alongside his junior teammates proved too strong for 26-year-old Brett Wicks to ignore.
Wicks played alongside first graders Ryan Farrell and Aaron Hartmann, among others, in the under-18 Grafton Ghosts in 2003.
He left the Ghosts when the Grafton City Rhinos reared their heads in 2008, and stayed at the club until after this year's campaign when they reverted to the South Grafton Rebels.
He is now back at the home of the blue and whites where he played his junior footy.
"I played from under-6s through to first grade for the Ghosts before moving to the Rhinos," Wicks said.
"I loved my time here. I only left because I was told there would only be one club and the Rhinos were it. I ended up making a few more mates over there and stayed."
Wicks, who covered fullback, centre, second row and lock at the Rebels this year, also pointed to club culture as another big reason behind the move.
"The Ghosts are a very family oriented club and with three kids that obviously played its part," Wicks said.
"Ryan started talking to me after our last game and said they were keen. I wasn't sure about moving until the second time he contacted me and I accepted.
"It will be great to be back with the boys. I'm not sure where Ryan will play me but I'll play anywhere."
Farrell is the current Ghosts first grade coach left stranded on 98 games after indicating 2013 was his last season.
He is leaving the door open to another season at halfback for the Ghosts, which could see him finally play alongside another of his mates.
"Brett brings a lot of enthusiasm to the side," Farrell said.
"He's got that go about him. He's solid, quick and he carries a lot of utility value.
"He can play anywhere and that's one of the key reasons we went after him - his versatility."