TIRELESS: South Grafton captain Rhys Walters is an inspiration to his teammates. PHOTO: DEBRAH NOVAK
TIRELESS: South Grafton captain Rhys Walters is an inspiration to his teammates. PHOTO: DEBRAH NOVAK

Indestructible hooker to start 135th game in a row

South Grafton Rebels captain Rhys Walters will start his 135th consecutive first grade game when he steps out against Grafton Ghosts on Sunday.

A type of statistic reserved for only the toughest, most resilient of players, Walters has shaken off the pain of dislocated digits to forge ahead. He has even played most of the 2014 with a broken hand.

"His mental toughness astounds me," father and No.1 supporter Col Walters said. "His ability to go through the pain barrier and keep turning up tackle after tackle, I don't know where he gets it from."

One thing is for certain - dedication runs in the family. Col claims to have only missed two of Rhys's matches since his son's under-12 days as a Grafton Ghosts junior.

Walters, now 24, made his first grade debut for the Ghosts aged 16 against Murwillumbah on June 4, 2006. He last missed a game because of an ankle injury in May, 2007.

He played in four grand finals, including the 2010 and 2011 premierships and became the youngest player in history to clock up 100 games for the Ghosts in the 34-12 win over Ballina in July 2012.

Walters transferred to South Grafton in 2013 with 110 matches under his belt, 106 of those consecutive, and has since added 28 more to the list.

Walters is developing a cult-like status for his toughness. Joe Kinnane, author of Grafton Ghosts: The Journey 1963-2012, confirmed stats don't lie.

"He's a tough little bugger," Kinnane said. "He certainly never once let the Ghosts down.

"Most of the current guys were teammates and hold him in respect."

Rebels coach Dallas Waters also praised his five-foot-five leader.

"He's not big in stature but his commitment is second to none," Waters said. "That many consecutive games is inspirational. Certainly all the boys look up to him and there's a lot of respect for him at the club.

"He works hard to keep his body in shape and on game day puts in 100%. I couldn't ask for anything more."



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