IN FORM: Grafton Redmen captain Kyle Hancock in action for Mid North Coast Axemen at last year's Country Championships.
IN FORM: Grafton Redmen captain Kyle Hancock in action for Mid North Coast Axemen at last year's Country Championships. Gary Nichols

Hancock has axe to grind at championships

RUGBY UNION: Grafton Redmen captain Kyle Hancock has been selected in the Mid North Coast Axemen rugby representative side for the second year in a row.

The rangy fullback was in sublime form for the Redmen last season and once again impressed selectors at the Axemen's recent training camp in Kew.

Mid North Coast rugby will host the Country Championships this year in Port Macquarie and will be hoping a home ground advantage will enhance their chances against quality opposition.

The Axeman have a poor record at the championships, but with a new coach on board and help from a former World Cup winning back's mentor, Mid North Coast have a chance to lift themselves from the championship cellar.

Former NSW Country under-18 coach Angus Anderson has been appointed as head coach with backline coaching guru Tim Lane providing valuable assistance.

Ex-Wallaby centre James Holbeck has also been added to the coaching staff along with dual Olympian and personal trainer Andrew Currey.

Anderson admitted he is well aware of the huge task ahead but added he is determined to turn things around from last year's disappointing seventh place in Armidale.

"We have a three-year plan in place and we're focusing on creating a winning culture. We need to lift the bar and hopefully players picked will come away from the tournament better rugby players and bring that back to their respective clubs," Anderson said.

"We want to be competitive again but we also need to be realistic. We want to play high tempo expansive rugby and we have a few surprises up our sleeves."

"It's great to see Grafton represented through Kyle. All the selectors agreed Kyle is the type of player we need at the back.

"He has a great kicking game, he's safe under pressure and looks fantastic running the ball."

The Country Championships will be held at Port Macquarie's Regional Stadium on Saturday 29 and Sunday April 30.

In local rugby news, Grafton will hold a trial game this Saturday against Lower River rivals Yamba Buccaneers at the Hay Street rugby fields in South Grafton. These battles have seen some top rugby in the past. Game kicks off at 2pm.



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