Ghosts captain faces tough choices
GRAFTON Ghosts captain-coach Ryan Farrell admits tying the knot with his long-time partner Chani Dean last weekend was an easy decision.
He now faces some tougher choices after the Ghosts trounced Group 2 side Orara Valley Axemen 48-10 in a pre-season trial on Saturday.
"It was a really good hit-out and scoring 48 points was a very positive sign," the Ghosts' premiership-winning halfback said.
"And we weren't even taking shots at goal.
"We scored 11 or 12 tries and we had heaps of first-graders missing. The plan was to cut the squad in half but because everyone played so well it's now going to be a difficult task."
An aggressive off-season recruitment drive, combined with several under-18 players now being eligible for the top grade has provided the reigning NRRRL premiers with a formidable playing roster.
Farrell, who has taken over the coaching reins from two-time premiership-winning coach Col Speed, faces a tough task settling on his top 17.
"We have plenty of talent to choose from and against Orara I thought our shape and structure was pretty good," he said.
"There were plenty of players who were impressive.
"Regan Burley (former Rhinos halfback) went into the hooking role and was very impressive. Also Cody Hairfield, who was a former Ghosts junior, showed some good signs.
"He's a big lump of a lad at six foot four inches (193cm) and as is as solid as a rock.
"Josh Donohoe is also back for us this year and got through a lot of work around the ruck area."
Farrell, who is arguably the best No. 7 in the NRRRL, opted not to pull the boots on against the Axeman, instead handing the coveted playmaker role to young guns Jake Frame and Jake Lennon.
"Framey played mostly five-eighth while Jake Lennon played halfback," Farrell said.
"When they were on the field they both took control of the game which was a promising sign."
The Ghosts will continue their pre-season campaign when they take on Evans Head in a trial match at Frank McGuren Field on Saturday.
"Evans will be a tougher opponent and probably at a better level then Orara," Farrell said.
The NRRRL is scheduled to kick off on April 14-15 with the Ghosts to tackle the Rhinos in round one.