Redmen set to thrive on winning culture
RUGBY UNION: There is an electricity in the atmosphere at Rugby Park this pre-season as the winning culture returns to the Grafton Redmen.
Club president Craig Howe said he could barely remember a time when the feeling in the club was better than it is now and only an extended wait was dampening pre-season festivities.
"We just want to be out there playing," Howe said.
"It is a shame we have to wait for the it to start, but once we hit the first round it will be go time," he said.
It will be a shortened Mid North Coast Rugby season as the executive aims to line up first grade and reserve grade with fewer top-flight clubs.
While it means the season start has been pushed back to April 22, more than two weeks later than Far North Coast zone, it is an move Howe welcomed.
"We are at home and away together, first and reserve grade do not play apart," he said.
"It started to happen last year on the Mid North Coast but they have got it spot on this season.
"It is extremely important to us because rugby is all about the club spirit and the ability for our teams to cheer for each other.
"It is one of the reasons we moved to the Mid North Coast zone last year."
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The Redmen have picked up signings in the off-season and the president said there was new competition for spots in the side among players.
Howe expected the extra pressure on the first grade positions would force players to lift and this should be reflected on the field.
Howe said if anybody was new to town and wanted to play rugby, the Redmen had an open-door policy at their training sessions.
Some of the Redmen brigade will get their first taste of rugby action this weekend as Mid North Coast hold early representative trials at the home of the Kempsey Cannonballs, Crescent Head.
With Mid North Coast set to host the illustrious Country Championships in April this year, the zone is keen to assemble a tough outfit to defend their home turf.
Redmen captain Kyle Hands played for the Axemen last season alongside teammate Zac Mason-Gale and it is expected the pairing will be among a host of Grafton recruits travelling to the trials on Sunday.
The Redmen are expected to get their first hit out as a squad at the Crescent 7s on March 4 before playing an official trial against Casino Bulls at their Hay St headquarters March 11.