Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

WHO WILL REIGN? Sports Editor Mitchell Craig Previews the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League Season Ahead of the First Round This Weekend

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

WHO WILL REIGN? Sports Editor Mitchell Craig Previews the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League Season Ahead of the First Round This Weekend

Article excerpt

Ballina Seagulls

Key gains: Caleb Binge (Moree) Chris Binge (Mackay) Liam Anderson (Evans Head)

Biggest loss: Alex Grant (Tweed Seagulls)

Player to watch: Fullback Oliver Regan

Coach: Mick Foster

Where the finished last year: Premiers

Predicted finish: 2nd

Comment: The defending premiers have lost a handful of players but there is no reason why they can't challenge again. The club is also coming off back-to-back Under-18 grand final wins.

Byron Bay Red Devils

Key gains: Tye Barry (Titans-20s) Clarence Kelly (Evans Head) Mitchell Krause (Lismore rugby)

Biggest loss: Brett Kelly (Easts Tigers)

Player to watch: Lock Matt Gallagher

Coach: Nathan Cross

Where they finished last year: 8th

Predicted finish: Premiers

Comment: Big recruitment drive including premiership winning coach and players Nathan Cross, Clarence Kelly and Simon Kelly. It has been a decade since they last won the title and have a team that can go all the way this year.

Casino Cougars

Key gains: Trevor Bolt (Evans Head) David Jacky (Marist Brothers)

Biggest loss: Roy Bell (Mullumbimby)

Player to watch: Front-rower Nick Morrissey

Coach: Brett Loy

Where they finished last year: 4th

Predicted finish: 8th

Comment: The Cougars have lost a lot of players this season and it could take them a while to find their feet. They have a good coach in Brett Loy and a decent core group of players including hooker Chad Taylor and lock Hayden Pratt.

Cudgen Hornets

Key gains: Jason Chan (Brisbane)

Biggest loss: Mark O'Grady (retired)

Player to watch: Front-rower Tim James

Coach: Pat Rosser

Where they finished last year: 2nd

Predicted finish: 5th

Comment: Coming off back-to-back grand finals and they do not look as strong on paper without the likes of Anthony Flores and Mark O'Grady. They should have enough strike to make the finals again.

Evans Head Bombers

Key gains: Tim Tregidgo (year off)

Biggest loss: Nikko Roberts (Mackay Magpies)

Player to watch: Second-rower Chad Banks

Coach: Tim Tregidgo

Where they finished last year: 7th

Predicted finish: 10th

Comment: Injuries crippled their chances last season and the Bombers have had a massive turnover of players this year. The forwards will be tough but they may not have the firepower in the backline to match it with the better teams.

Kyogle Turkeys

Key gains: Alex Farrell (Mackay Cutters) Marty Ferguson (Brisbane)

Biggest loss: Jacob Skinner (overseas)

Player to watch: Lock Lachlan Crawter

Coach: Kevin Walker

Where they finished last year: 9th

Predicted finish: 9th

Comment: The Turkeys have a young team again and Alex Farrell will be a big addition in the front-row. A returning Marty Ferguson will also give them more depth. …

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