NO STONE: The Redmen will miss the services of flyer Ben Stone due to representative commitments.
NO STONE: The Redmen will miss the services of flyer Ben Stone due to representative commitments. Debrah Novak

Short on cattle but Redmen remain wary of Beef Week challenge

JUST because the Grafton Redmen are short on cattle does not mean Casino will have an easy Beef Week match today.

The Redmen travel north in search of their third win of the season, against a team that is yet to post a solitary victory.

That statistic has not lulled coach Don Darke into a false sense of security, however, saying his team expected a tough match.

"We have a few high-profile losses with Ben Robinson and Ben Stone unavailable," Darke said.

"There aren't too many other changes to the team we had against Byron Bay last week.

"The basis of the squad is still there, though, so I'm not expecting us to play too differently."

Stone's absence comes about due to his selection in the Australian Emergency Services team to tour Hong Kong.

Speaking from Coffs Harbour airport yesterday, he said it could be up to a month before he gets to don the blood and bandages of the Redmen again.

"There's a few byes after I get back so it could be a while," the outside back said.

"I've got three games over in Hong Kong, which should keep me occupied. There's been a bit of a build-up with this trip so I'm keen."

While the loss of two valuable strike weapons could unsettle most coaches, Darke said he was unfazed by the change.

Reporter: "What do you gain from Adam Crawley replacing Ben Stone?"

Darke: "His shiny forehead for one."

Darke was more concerned about his players sticking to the game plan, and continuing to build on their increasingly better performances.

"It's only a matter of time before they put in a full 80minutes," Darke said.

"For the last weeks we've been in the game until the final few minutes when a few calls went against us.

"It has been a slow process but their performances are getting better with every week."

Young half Josh Wrigley finds himself starting at scrumhalf again, after a solid performance against Byron Bay last week.

"Josh is someone we'll be looking to a lot more over the rest of the season," Darke said.

"He filled Barney's (Paul Graham) shoes while he's been injured and has done a very good job of it."

The match will also mark Benjamin Thomas's final game for the Redmen before heading home to the US, where it's believed he wants to open a meat pie shop.

Grafton Redmen

1. Luke Deleiuen 2. Sean Austin 3. Beau Brotherson 4. Benjamin Thomas 5. Beau Deleiuen 6. Jacob Page 7. Tony Baldwin 8. Tom Tanner 9. Josh Wrigley10. Paul Cameron 11. Riley Durrington 12. Scott Lloyd 13. Jake Macrae 14. Adam Crawley 15. Kyle Hancock

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