Rugby league hooker loves tackling

GRAFTON Ghosts hooker Rhys Walters spends his working week lopping trees and cutting lawns and at weekends loves to mow down rivals on the rugby league field.

The 19-year-old is a tackling machine and has set himself a target of making at least 60 tackles in every game.

“I love tackling,” he said.

Walters has worked himself into the heart of a Ghosts squad which will be out to continue its march through the NRRRL tomorrow against the Ballina Seagulls at Frank McGuren Park.

Starting his league career at South Grafton, Walters joined the Ghosts at the tender age of 14 and through tenacity and sheer will broke into the first grade squad last season.

“He is probably the most dedicated player at training,” Ghosts first grade coach Col Speed said.

“He has the best mental attitude, a great never-say-die attitude and has the heart of Phar Lap.

“All the players know what he's worth on the field.”

While Walters wants to set new defensive standards in the NRRRL, Speed, however, is not so keen on the idea.

“We've had a chat about that and he told me that was one of his goals (60 tackles a game),” Speed said.

“But if he's making that many tackles it means we don't have the ball for large parts of the game and I'm not into that.”

While making his first grade debut was a highlight of 2008 for Walters, the heartbreak of narrowly losing last year's grand final to Byron Bay continues to haunt him, driving him to improve.

“Yeah it's been all right (this season) ... I'm pretty happy with it,” Walters said.

“There are a few things I need to improve on - attack mainly, picking and choosing my runs - but it'll come.”

However, Speed was quick to praise Walters' attacking game which has evolved into a deadly attacking weapon for the Ghosts.

“I give him a lot of credit for his game-sense from dummy half,” he said. “He's probably more improved out of dummy half.”

Walters could be quickly joined by a new breed of Ghosts first grade player, with Speed keeping an eye on talented utility Josh Donohoe and hard-working front rower Ben Ellis.

Speed said players pushing for a first grade spot need to consistently show they can play at the highest level and with Ballina rolling into the town the opportunity is there for all to grab.

“Ballina has nearly doubled its roster and there is some quality there in depth,” Speed said.

“And with experience of coach Brian Battese they'll be playing some good football.”

Despite the loss to injury of representative players Ben McLennan and Nat Sewell, Speed said he was looking for the squad to continue on from its recent 52-18 demolition of Kyogle.

“Last weekend was a good time to have a break and freshen up,” Speed said.

“(But) we still have a few areas to improve on.”

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