Redmen representatives victorious in Tamworth
MCKIMMS Redmen captain Kyle Hancock should be beaming with confidence heading into Grafton's crucial clash against Casuarina Barbarians at the Hay St rugby fields on Saturday.
Hancock played a starring role in Far North Coast's Richardson Shield victory at the NSW Country Championships held in Tamworth last weekend.
The Grafton number-15 scored two tries in his side's 53-28 mauling of Central North in the final after a comprehensive victory over New England the previous day.
Hancock, along with Grafton's Ed McGrath and Zac Mason-Gale, all played their part in Far North Coast's first title since 2010.
"We had a very strong squad, particularly in the backs,” Hancock said.
"It just goes to show the strength of the Zone this season. We won our first game against New England and played our best game in the final against Central North.
"Ed was outstanding over the two days and if he doesn't make the Country squad then there's something wrong.”
Hancock and the Redmen now focus their attention to Saturday's blockbuster against third-placed Casuarina who has claimed some big scalps this season including Ballina and Lennox Head.
Grafton went down 14-6 to the Barbarians in round one of the competition in a scrappy affair but since then both sides have steadily improved.
"It was hard to judge either side back in round one,” Hancock admitted.
"Both teams were a bit rusty and made a lot of errors. They (Casuarina) will be a different side this time around and they had a couple of handy backs that played in the rep side.
"If we want to keep in touch with the top sides we need to start stringing a few games together starting on Saturday.”
In a huge blow for the club, Grafton first grade coach Craig Howe was scrambling for replacement players on Tuesday night due to a lengthy casualty list.
The injury-ravaged Redmen have lost star centres Dwayne Duke and Jack Harris along with winger Luke Worthing and second-rower Nick Collie.
The Redmen Club will be also holding their annual Ladies Day in conjunction with Saturdays' game.
First game kicks-off at 1.30pm. First grade: 1. Jack Anderson 2. Zac Mason-Gale 3. Dan Blackman 4. Declan Collie 5. Rhys Nelson 6. Billy Whalan 7. Tom Tanner 8. Ed McGrath 9. Dom Bullock 10. Adam Smidt 11. TBA 12. TBA 13. Keaton Ingram 14. Ryan Spies 15. Kyle Hancock (c)