Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Sullivan Ready to Lead New Look Side

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Sullivan Ready to Lead New Look Side

Article excerpt

Byline: Quinn Jones quinn.jones@dailyexaminer.com.au

THERE was a moment in Xavier Sullivan's life when he could have easily walked away from rugby league.

The new Grafton Rhinos captain-coach was living in Sydney, playing Manly A-grade, but enjoying neither.

Enter good mate and former Grafton footballer Rob Toshack.

"I went back to league (from rugby union) when I was down in Sydney," Sullivan said.

"I didn't like it in Manly, but then my friend Rob got there and he made me want to come back to the game."

Toshack's intervention has been to the great benefit of the Grafton Rhinos, with Sullivan readying himself to lead the club into battle for the first time against reigning Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League champions Byron Bay at McKittrick Park tomorrow.

Before he was a Rhino, Sullivan was a Rebel, playing with the South Grafton side for two successful seasons.

Sullivan's career was punctuated with a move to the Woolgoolga Seahorses, but the hulking forward soon found himself back at McKittrick Park, with the call of the newly-formed Rhinos proving too hard to resist. The club finished a credible eighth in its inaugural year, with Sullivan's defence-wrecking runs a major factor as the club fell narrowly short of finals football.

And when captain-coach Chris Osborne stepped aside, Sullivan saw an opportunity to lead the club.

"The committee said they were looking for a local boy to take over so I put my name into the hat," Sullivan said.

"I've always had the respect of the players ... I'm always the first one to help somebody on and off the field. I've played a lot of footy and it is something I've always wanted."

The club decided the former Grafton High rugby union star was the perfect candidate to lead the squad.

Todd Cameron, Joel Moss, Jeff Skeen, Luke Worthing - these are the names which cross Sullivan's mind when he describes the new 'youth' approach at the Rhinos. …

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