Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Decade of Dominance; Walters Celebrates 200th First Grade Start in Front of His 'Extended Family'

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Decade of Dominance; Walters Celebrates 200th First Grade Start in Front of His 'Extended Family'

Article excerpt

MATTHEW ELKERTON

sport@dailyexaminer.com.au

FIRST GRADE

1. Kieren Stewart

2. Ant Skinner

3. Austin Cooper

4. Aaron Taylor

5. Kieron Johnson-Heron

6. Nick McGrady

7. Kayan Davis

8. Karl Woodley

9. Rhys Walters

10. Jeff Skeen

11. Grant Brown

12. Grant Stevens (c/c)

13. Luke Welch

14. Jordan Walker

15. Matty Laurie

RUGBY LEAGUE: In more than a decade playing among the first grade ranks in the Clarence Valley, South Grafton Rebels hooker Rhys Walters has seen it all and felt even more of it.

After winning multiple premierships on both sides of the Clarence River and a brief foray in black and white, Walters is ready to run into his toughest challenge yet - his 200th first grade game.

While it is a monumental moment for the 27-year-old, you would not know by looking at him. The power packed dummy-half is a picture of serenity ahead of the clash with Bellingen at McKittrick Park tomorrow.

This day has been a long time coming for Walters who surpassed the 100 game milestone with the Grafton Ghosts in 2012 before clocking up 150 in the Rebels defining 2015 season.

Walters has become an institution of local league since making his first grade debut as a 16-year-old in 2006 with his headgear becoming as synonymous as Cowboys' half Johnathon Thurston.

But when it all began all those years ago under coach Matty Michael, there was not a single thought about 200 games or what was to follow for the hooker.

"I had just finished playing a game of Under 18s, I think I had even been sent for 10 minutes for a bit of fisticuffs," he said. "I think that's why Matty wanted me because I wasn't as blowing as the other boys.

"It wasn't an easy step though. I think people don't understand the step from a good 18s player to a good first grader. When I made the debut, we played Murwillumbah, who were premiers that year, and the difference was just unreal. …

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