Grafton Redmen's under-17s squad is looking forward to this weekend's FNC Rugby grand final. Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner
Grafton Redmen's under-17s squad is looking forward to this weekend's FNC Rugby grand final. Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner Adam Hourigan

Red-letter day on line

TAKE a good look at the men in this photo.

The 22 Grafton Redmen players could enter the local record books as Grafton's first premiership-winning rugby team since 2006.

It has been a ripper of a year for the under-17 Redmen, dropping only one game on their way to tonight's grand final.

As fate would have it, that loss came against their fellow premiership contender Wollongbar Alstonville, which secured a 17-12 win over Grafton at the beginning of the season.

Since then it has been domination by the Redmen, leaving coach Tony King quietly confident his charges could finish the season on the ultimate high.

"That game we lost against them we were still coming together as a team and hadn't played much together," King said.

King points to the backline as being one of their most dangerous weapons, and most pundits would have to agree.

They have NSW Country Cockatoos flyhalf Nathan McPherson directing traffic in the middle and feeding tries to speedster Dylan Collett.

Collett is also the competition's leading try-scorer.

"Austin 'Aussie' Cooper is a big, dangerous front-rower who hasn't taken a backward step, and fullback Bryce Rankin has been improving all year," King said.

"We have a potent backline but it will be an overall team performance that will deliver a premiership."

Assistant coach Simon Fenn agreed with King's summation of the side, but painted a picture that leaves no doubt this season has been a full club effort.

"Tonko (first grade coach Peter Tonkin) had a development program here a few years ago and a few boys came through that," Fenn said.

"We've had a good core group that have been playing together since they were in the under-10s and under-12s.

"This could be the last time a lot of these boys play together so they will be looking to make it special."

Fenn paid credit to everyone involved in the season's effort, thanking the parents for their commitment as well as the players.

"One of the best parts of this group has been their commitment to training," Fenn said.

"We've had games at places like Brunswick and Bangalow every Friday night and that takes a lot of commitment from parents as well."



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