Magpie's gigantic task
THIS time last year Xavier Sullivan was leading the Rhinos out on to the field against Ballina.
But what a difference a year can make.
Tonight Sullivan will captain the Lower Clarence Magpies when they clash with the Giants at Les Donnelly Field, Mullumbimby.
Sullivan has been part of the Magpies' revival this season and his partnership with fellow front-rower Ryan Binge has given Lower plenty of grunt up front.
Throw in class hooker Tom Martin and the Magpies boast one of the best go-forwards in the competition.
But against the Giants in front of a roaring one-eyed crowd Sullivan could well be left to his own devices to take on the Mullumbimby pack.
Binge still has one week to serve on his suspension and Martin will miss the all-important clash through personal reasons.
“Ryan is still out for one more week due to being cited by the Ghosts,” Sullivan said.
“It's strange because there was nothing in the match report. Marto is also unavailable and Mossy (Joel Moss) is injured.”
The absence of Moss is a huge blow for the Magpies who are keen to win back-to-back games after defeating Ballina at home last week.
It's no secret Moss was low on confidence at the back-end of last season playing for the Rhinos.
But with a new side and new surroundings he has returned to the form which made him one of the best attacking fullbacks in the NRRRL.
“I think Mossy did lose a bit of confidence last season,” Sullivan explains.
“I spoke to him about it and there was too much negative talk, feedback from players and from outside.
“This year he appears to be back to his best.”
The Magpies have been hit hard with injuries and after three rounds have only one win to their name.
Down on troops, particularly in the halves, co-coach Dallas Waters returned to the field last weekend after a two-year hiatus.
And according to Sullivan, Waters played as if he never left the game.
“Having Dallas back has definitely helped. He even surprised me with his fitness last week,” the Magpie front-rower revealed.
“He was physical throughout the game. I've played a lot of football with Dallas over the years and nothing's changed.
“He's still a good organiser and has all the skills.”
Sullivan admitted playing Mullumbimby at night on their home ground will be a huge task in itself but is confident, even with the loss of key players, the Magpies can come away with the points.
“It's always hard playing up there on a Saturday night,” he said. “Even though we have a few out I'm confident the boys will get the job done.
“Dan Randall has stiffened-up our backs and young Andrew Kapeen is very unpredictable.
“It's a must-win game for us as we have Murwillumbah next week.”