SHOCK AND AWE: Ghosts enforcer ready to bark for Bulldogs
RUBBY LEAGUE: While he is used to driving a cement mixer for work each day, this weekend Daniel Lavender wants to hit like one.
The young Grafton Ghosts forward has got a shock call-up to the North Coast Bulldogs' Under-23 representative side for the opening clash of the Country Championships against Greater Northern Tigers in Coffs Harbour.
It was a selection that Lavender never saw comingwith the 20-year-old only last month planning to hang up the boots this season.
"I didn't really want to play the whole lot to be honest,” he said. "I am working down south now so it is hard to get back for training each week. The last thing I wanted to do was turn up half-arsed for a game.
"But when I saw a lot of the boys were coming back for the Ghosts this year, I had to come back.”
Lavender credits former NRL player Clint Greenshields as a great influence on his career when he was coming through the first grade ranks two years ago.
"Greeny was the big reason I decided to lace up for another year; there was no pressure from anyone in the club, I just wanted to come back to play with him,” he said.
Within two weeks, Lavender went from easing back into the Ghosts' pre-season to getting the nod for the Bulldogs.
His selection for the side came after strong performances in the Ghosts' first grade side on their way to the minor-premiership last year.
"I didn't know anything about it, it wasn't until after the side was put up that a mate called me to let me know,” Lavender said.
Lavender said his biggest issue coming back would be fitness, tipping the scales at a little over 100kg.
"The plan is to just use the extra weight to hit a bit harder,” he said. "This weekend is about having a bit of fun, but I don't like to lose so I will give it my all.”
The clash will headline a big weekend of representative football at Geoff King Motors Oval including clashes in the Andrew Johns Cup, Laurie Daley Cup and inaugural women's tackle Country Championships.