Group 2 Redbacks rep duty for relieved Leota
IAN LEOTA is the sole South Grafton Rebel in the Group 2 Redbacks lineup to face Group 3 at Wauchope tomorrow.
Remarkably, it is the first time Leota has been selected for a representative side, with the front-rower missing out on Group 4 trials when he played at Narrabri.
"I'm very happy to be in the side," Leota said.
"I always got up to Narrabri late so missed out on Group 4 trials."
He is joined by five Grafton Ghosts - Mitch Lollback, Matt Muller, Aaron Hartmann, Todd Cameron and Dave Emmott - as the Clarence Valley cohort in the side which features seven players from Coffs Comets.
The Comets also supply coach Col Speed to the squad.
Speed coached Lollback, Hartmann and Emmott at different times during the Ghosts' Clayton Cup-winning seasons in 2010/11.
You have to feel for the Group 3 side, which has to try to stop powerhouse Comets duo Blair Blanchette and Matt Cheeseman, before the bigger Emmott and Leota take the field.
"We've only had two training sessions but we're looking good," Leota said.
"We've got a pretty strong squad but it's going to be a tough game."
The Group 2 season will take a one-week break with the Rebels travelling to Bellingen for their next match on May 25.
South Grafton is reeling from the suspension of classy halfback Jay Melrose, who was rubbed out for the remainder of the season after being found guilty of threatening referee James Maggio.
Leota would not use Melrose's dismissal as an excuse however, and was more concerned with the way his side gave up its slender lead to Coffs.
He was hopeful the club could get its season on track before it was too late.
"We were just short on numbers towards the end - we only had 11 players out there for the last five or 10 minutes," Leota said.
"Hopefully we can get everything together and bounce back."
GROUP 2 REDBACKS
1. Mitch Lollback (Ghosts)
2. Matt Muller (Ghosts)
3. Abel Lefaosue (Coffs Hbr)
4. Aaron Hartmann (Ghosts)
5. Richard Niu (Bellingen)
6. Peter Irwin (Coffs Hbr)
7. Nathan Curry (Coffs Hbr)
8. Blair Blanchette (Coffs Hbr)
9. Andrew Smith (Coffs Hbr)
10. Matt Cheeseman (Coffs Hbr)
11. Sam Miles (Macksville)
12. Adam Slater (Woolgoolga)
13. Rick Barr (Coffs Hbr)
14. Todd Cameron (Ghosts)
15. Dave Emmott (Ghosts)
16. Michael Terman (Macksville)
17. Ian Leota (Sth/Grafton)
18. Zac Shepard (Woolgoolga)