ON THE CHARGE: South Grafton Rebels captain Grant Stevens will hope to march his troops into the 2018 Group 2 season.
ON THE CHARGE: South Grafton Rebels captain Grant Stevens will hope to march his troops into the 2018 Group 2 season. Brad Greenshields

Rebels will not be held back as pre-season kicks off

RUGBY LEAGUE: If the weather gods are trying to send a message to South Grafton Rebels, the club is refusing to listen.

South Grafton has been at the mercy of the weather since attempting to start the club's pre-season early in December.

But the club has said "enough is enough", as it plans to go ahead with the first training run of the season tomorrow night, rain, hail or shine.

Coach Ron Gordon plans to not only play but take out the annual Border Knockout at Goondiwindi in February, so the club will need all the training it can get.

"The rain has been getting a few of our training sessions, and it has been a little bit tough," club president Brad Rodda said.

"We had a bit of a club bonding barbecue just before the Christmas break but this week will be the first proper training session that the players have had."

The Rebels first-grade side has been the benchmark team of Group 2 in recent seasons, playing in three consecutive grand finals, winning the league back-to-back in 2015-16.

It was derailed by a superior Grafton Ghosts outfit last year but Rodda was confident the club has the right mindset in 2018.

"The feeling around the club is really good," he said.

"I know a few of the guys have been off doing their own thing over the Christ- mas break and are raring to get into proper training now.

"It is a bit hard to get really good numbers with most of the Under 18s still away on school holidays but I think we're expecting to get around 20 to 30 people."

Rodda said the club was in negotiations with several players to bolster playing stocks ahead of the season.

"We should be getting a few fresh new faces around the group pretty soon," he said.

"We are in the middle of finalising a few names which will hopefully come through early next week.

"Johnny Matthews has also been out on the war- path, re-signing a bunch of blokes from last season as well."

The training session will also be the first chance coach Heidi Dalton has had to see her women league tag side in action since its tough loss to Coffs Harbour in the decider last season.

The other exciting factor will be first-time coach Rowan Hardy, and seeing how he copes with the pressure of leading the Rebels reserve-grade side.

Rodda said Hardy had worked wonder so far.

"You can just tell he has focus and determination,"

he said.

"He has been really positive about taking the reins of the reserve grade side and he is the fittest he has been in a number of years. It's great."

Training is at 6pm tomorrow night and all prospective players have been asked to get down to JJ Lawrence Field to meet the 2018 coaching staff.

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