Redmen to cover for Hancock's loss
THE Grafton Redmen say the absence of explosive fullback Kyle Hancock will not derail their Far North Coast Rugby Union chances before the first grade season even kicks off.
The Redmen meet Ballina to open their campaign tomorrow, but the 2010 strugglers will have to manage the heist without key attacking cog Hancock.
Hancock is awaiting a judiciary ruling over an alleged head-butt on a New England rival while playing for Far North Coast under-20s last weekend.
But, with Hancock missing much of the Redmen's pre-season with representative commitments anyway, coach Brad Llyod remains unconcerned.
“We are missing a few due to other commitments,” said Llyod, who will also be without Josh Nagle and Chris Adamson.
“But, I think we have done plenty of work in the off-season. We'll see on Saturday.”
In a backline reshuffle, Johnny Morgan is vying with Ben Hill for the vacant five-eighth position which is likely to open up following Huein Collie's shift to the back.
Justin Travers has been rewarded for a strong pre-season with a spot at hooker, further adding to Llyod's aim of creating a good, young attacking Redmen side in 2011.
“Throw in players like Dwayne Duke and we have a pretty good squad,” Llyod said.
“I'm trying to go a bit wider this season and use some of these young guys.
“Ballina has some big boys, so we are hoping we can tire them out a bit and turn them around.”
The increased emphasis on fitness is also likely to be a factor on what is expected to be a hot Saturday afternoon.
“A lot of games we were in it until the last 20 minutes last season,” Llyod said.
“Hopefully we have addressed that.”
The match will be held at Ballina, with the under-19s to kick-off at 11.30am before the third and second grade matches with first grade to start at 3.15pm.
Meanwhile, the Yamba Buccaneers, fresh from their 57-7 thumping of Armidale last weekend, begin their Far North Coast Rugby Union Village campaign against Byron Bay at home tomorrow. The under-19s meet Lennox Head at 2.30pm.