Rebels aim to hold down fortress
RUGBY LEAGUE: The South Grafton Rebels are ready to continue their dominance at their home ground which saw McKittrick Park dubbed "The Fortress" last year.
The Rebels open their 2016 campaign on the hallowed turf tomorrow when they host the Sawtell Panthers who are an unknown entity so far this season after having their Round 1 clash with Orara Valley deferred to the representative round.
The Rebels will have a full strength side with new halves player Theeran Pearson arriving at the club last night for an impromptu first grade training run.
The late return of former Rebel Anthony Skinner has also boosted the side ahead of this weekend with the ad-lib playmaker slotting into the fullback role forcing Jade Duroux to the wing outside Nick McGrady.
"We are excited to have Anthony back in the ranks," Rebels president Ray Taunton said. "He is one of those footballers who has the ability to just make something from nothing.
"I think he will do a great job for our side this year."
Apart from a thrilling 30-point draw with rivals Grafton Ghosts the Rebels did not drop any competition points at McKittrick Park last season.
And according to Taunton it will be business as usual at the South Grafton field this year as well.
"We want to get our season off to a real good start this weekend," he said.
"The boys know how to make McKittrick into an imposing venue for opposition.
"The home crowd really get behind the players and egg them on and we will be looking for that support again this season."
Taunton said first grade coach Ron Gordon had pressed the point of holding on to the winner culture that the club established last year under the leadership of Dallas Waters.
"We have got a side that is keen and ready to go, they are out there to continue that winning culture that we strived for last season," he said.
"Ronnie has talked a lot about it with the squad and so did Rhys (Walters). Rhys had a talk about the team's target for the year to reclaim the premiership.
"We are out to prove that last season was no fluke and we will do it again."
Sawtell will be hoping to also start their season with a win with new-look forwards.
Action is expected to kick off at midday with Under 18s.