Young Cougars confident

THE last time the Grafton Rhinos and Casino met, the Cougars pulled off an upset victory which almost spelled the end for the Rhinos’ season.

The sides will play on Rhinos home soil tomorrow.

Casino coach Troy Johnstone was upbeat about his side’s chances of coming away with the two points.

“I remember the boys were up for the game last year when they beat the Rhinos at home,” he said. “I expect the Rhinos will be a competitive side week-in, week-out.”

Johnstone admits the Cougars are going through a rebuilding stage this season and has pinned his hopes on local juniors to perform in the top grade.

“We have a young side; last year some of the juniors played A grade but it was a bit too early for them,” he said.

“Our halfback, James Hammond, is only 21 and we’ve named him as captain. He’s been training well and has leadership material.”

Johnstone said he is excited about the prospect of his two young centres making a name for themselves in 2011.

“Richie Roberts is a local boy and Todd Johnson looks the goods. They should combine well in the centres,” he said.

“We also have a few New Zealanders in the side. They’re not overly big but have been training hard and have a good work-rate.

“One is a five-eighth, a second-rower and Caleb McIntyre is playing his second year as lock-forward.”

With a new-look side, Johnstone is hoping his team can remain competitive all season.

The Examiner was unable to contact the Rhinos coach or captain so no team list was available.

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