South Grafton Rebels captain Grant Stevens leads from the fron with a strong hit up against the Coffs Harbour Comets during the Group 2 preliminary final. rugby league 27 August 2017 Geoff King Motors Park
South Grafton Rebels captain Grant Stevens leads from the fron with a strong hit up against the Coffs Harbour Comets during the Group 2 preliminary final. rugby league 27 August 2017 Geoff King Motors Park Brad Greenshields

'Stumpy' speeds up return to the field

RUGBY LEAGUE: South Grafton Rebels fans will be in high spirits after senior player Grant Stevens' return to pre-season training last week.

Stevens, who led the club to back-to-back premierships in 2015 and 2016 and a third straight grand final in 2017, spent most of last season on the sidelines following a full knee reconstruction in the off-season.

He made a brief return to the field in June but further complications forced him off the field, and under the knife in December.

The workhorse second rower is putting it all in the past as he sets his sights on making it onto the field for round one of the Tooheys New Group 2 season.

Stevens got a good start on his goal, getting through a full session last week, including running in the beep test.

"I went there to do some boxing and some light running. I just thought I would do the warm-up and see how it goes and then I just kept progressing with the session,” he said. "I got some light contact and tackling work, which felt really good.

"(Rebels reserve grade coach) Josh Nagle wants to do me up some exercises around building muscle stability in my leg and hopefully that will help get me on the field.

"I probably won't play the first two trial games but I will see how I go for the third.”

The Rebels' first two trials will be at the Hoey Moey Coffs Coast 9s and the Sgt Matthew Locke Charity Day, before the club hosts the Mullumbimby Giants in all four grades in March.

While excited to make it back onto the field, Stevens said he did not expect to be handed back the captaincy of the first-grade squad.

"We briefly spoke about it, but that is in his (coach Craig Youngjohns') hands, it is up to him to see who he wants to lead the side,” Stevens said.



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