Former NRL front-rower joins Ballina as captain-coach
FORMER NRL front-rower Luke Douglas has signed with Ballina and will attempt to lead the Seagulls to back-to-back premierships in Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League next season.
He comes to the club having played 263 NRL games for the Cronulla Sharks and Gold Coast Titans before another 59 games with St Helens in the English Super League.
The 33-year-old grew up in Yamba and takes over from champion centre Jamie Lyon who had one season at Ballina after a decorated NRL career.
"Luke has agreed to do the job next season and we're very happy to have someone like him on board," Ballina president Al Perry said.
"Jamie played a big role in getting him here and we both spoke to him on the phone about his plans.
"He's in the final year of a surveying course and he's going to be doing that with Chris Abbott at Ballina, so it made sense for him to play here."
Douglas is a Lower Clarence junior and only played a few senior games with the Magpies before making his NRL debut at the Sharks as a 20-year-old in 2006.
He comes from a sporting family, with his younger brother Kane Douglas playing 31 rugby union internationals for the Wallabies.
Douglas was a regular on the Northern Rivers during his stint with the Titans between 2012-2016.
He still holds the record for most consecutive NRL games, playing 215 straight between 2006-2014.
"They (Titans) used to come down a fair bit when Neil Henry was coach and I always remember how good Luke was with the kids," Perry said.
"We'll be lucky to have him playing in a young side and they'll all learn so much from him like they did with Jamie this season.
"We've got a core group of players in their mid-20s but most of our guys are younger than that."
Perry said most of the premiership-winning team from 2019 was playing next season and they would also welcome the likes of Cameron Copeland and Matt Koellner back to the fold.
Ballina has been the most successful club in the competition since 2013, playing in six grand finals and winning five of them.