Ghosts in winning spirit
THE Grafton Ghosts kick off their 2012 NRRRL campaign against Evans Head at Frank McGuren Field tomorrow and if everything goes to plan the defending premiers should win, and win comfortably.
For the Bombers it doesn't get any tougher than playing the benchmark team of the competition on a Sunday afternoon in front of a large parochial Ghosts' home crowd.
The Ghosts trounced Evans Head 28-8 in their last trial game but according to captain/coach Ryan Farrell the Bombers will field a different side this time around.
"We did beat Evans fairly comfortably in a trial game but what I'm hearing is they'll have a stronger side for Sunday's game," he said.
"Apparently they had a few out in the trial and may have picked up a handy halfback. We haven't played any footy for about four weeks but everyone's keen and raring to go."
Farrell has sprung his first selection surprise of the season naming rangy back-rower Josh Donohoe at lock. Donohoe last played for the Ghosts in 2009 and will add plenty of mongrel to an already intimidating pack of forwards.
"Josh has been away the last couple of years and is being rewarded for his efforts at training and in the trial games," the Ghosts coach revealed.
"He has good fitness and is in the same mould as Ryan Danvers. Josh gets through plenty of work on the field and that's exactly what we're looking for."
Big Dave Emmott has also made the run-on side to take on the Bombers and along with front-row partner Mitchell Wicks will add plenty of grunt to an already intimidating pack of forwards.
The Ghosts Pommy import, who was part of the 2010 premiership winning side, has overcome a niggling groin injury as has gun rookie Sam Lennon who will start fresh from the bench.
All the pre-season talk was who will wear the number nine jumper this season, Lennon or incumbent hooker Rhys Walters.
Farrell has decided to go with both players with Lennon expected to test the Bombers tiring forwards late in the half.
"I see Sam as a specialist hooker. He's coming off an injury he picked up against Orara in a trial game but passed a fitness test on Thursday night," Farrell said.
"Rhys will run the side and knows what to do and he gets through plenty of work especially bringing down the big forwards.
"Sam will come on late in the game to use his lightning speed out of dummy-half."
There's no doubt the Ghosts boast one of the best packs in the NRRRL but it's out wide where they are hard to contain.
Aaron Taylor, Khan Williams and wingers Sam Hartmann and Dan Lollback all know how to find the chalk and with Farrell and Dan Roberts providing the space fans can expect an exciting afternoon of attacking footy.
Add fullback and try-scoring whiz kid Mitch Lollback to the equation and the Bombers could be in for a torrid time on the edges.