TWO-TRY HERO: Grafton Redmen rugby league recruit James Hughes will line up against Bangalow on Saturday after an impressive first grade debut against Casuarina last weekend. Phtoo: Gary Nichols
TWO-TRY HERO: Grafton Redmen rugby league recruit James Hughes will line up against Bangalow on Saturday after an impressive first grade debut against Casuarina last weekend. Phtoo: Gary Nichols

Grafton’s first time player to two-try star

RUGBY UNION: When James Hughes packed into his first rugby scrum last weekend against Casuarina Barbarians everything was sweet.

Crouch, tick, bind, tick, set, tick, and engage … well three out of four ain’t bad.

Hughes marked his Grafton Redmen debut with some eye-catching ball running resulting in two five-pointers and plenty of metres.

But for the 23-year-old prop, his initial contact against an experienced front row caught him by surprise.

“To tell the truth the first scrum wasn’t too bad, but I did get caught out,” Hughes said during the week.

>>> LOOK BACK: Scoring blitz puts down Grafton’s newcomers

“I wasn’t expecting such an impact but as the game went on I became more confident.”

Redmen co-coach Brett “Barney” Graham was full of praise for his new recruit but admitted the first scrum against the opposition was a concern.

“James played very well but in the first scrum of the game he went up and backwards,” Graham said.

“I asked him at halftime what was the problem and he said he wasn’t ready for the impact.

“But to his credit, for the rest of the game he knew what was coming and he was excellent.”

A rugby league diehard, Hughes decided to try his hand at the 15-a-side game thanks to continued pestering by one of the Redmen’s favourite sons.

“Ed McGrath, he has been harassing me to have a game so I decided to have a crack,” Hughes said.

“I’ve played league for the Rebels, Lower and Ghosts. Even though league isn’t being played at the moment I was already committed to playing for the Redmen.

“I felt comfortable and enjoyed my first hit out, but I had to continually remind myself not to run back ten metres after making a tackle.”

Standing 183cm and weighing in at 130kg, Hughes added plenty of grunt to the Redmen pack. And he was not alone, several other code-hoppers made an immediate impact in their first taste of rugby.

CRUNCH: Grafton Redmen winger Nic McCabe halts the progress of a Casuarina player. Unfortunately it wasn't enough to stop a late second-half scoring blitz by the visitors.
CRUNCH: Grafton Redmen winger Nic McCabe halts the progress of a Casuarina player. Unfortunately it wasn't enough to stop a late second-half scoring blitz by the visitors.

For Graham, the inclusion of Hughes and his rugby league teammates in the top grade proved a winner.

“They all played very well,” Graham said.

“Tyler Hancock at number seven was outstanding and young Jake Martin was solid in the backline.

“Cooper Lewis has played rugby in the past and that showed.”

Grafton’s Round 2 match-up is an away game against Bangalow who recorded a narrow victory over Casino last week.



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