Coffs Rugby rebuilding
By GREG WHITE
COFFS Rugby coach Paul Butcher offers one guarantee for today's competition opener with Kempsey at Rugby Park.
"The game will be pretty ugly," Butcher laughed.
"The trials went great but you don't expect much finesse till you've had a couple of starts under match conditions."
In the weeks leading up to this game, Butcher has continually played down any expectations of remaining unbeaten for an unprecedented fourth season.
"There's been a rebuild going," he said.
"I'm the last bloke you should ask for a wild prediction."
Actually, Butcher's squad has come up much better than had been once predicted.
The forward pack is relatively unchanged with Craig Landrigan, originally thought lost on an overseas jaunt, expected back within a month.
But the backline does have a new look.
"Kevin Simpson and Alex Hulme are all that remain from 2005," Butcher revealed, "but several quality replacements have come to town and there's depth coming out of the under 19 ranks."
One of those youngsters will have to wait his turn.
Damien Punch, 18, was to make his first grade debut at halfback but under the rules governing junior players in senior matches, Butcher still needs a Level II coach to sign off on his young star.
"Ten seniors will be missing this weekend because of the holidays but it's still a strong combination," the coach said.
Butcher has one secret weapon he's been sitting on that will rock the Cannonballs when they first spot him today.
"Mika Kama turned up to training and I'll sit him on the bench."
That news will delight the big man's gallery of fans who've watched him run riot over the opposition during the club's golden years.
The game will be the last for winger Robert Swinton and wife Penny, the team runner.
The pair are moving to Broken Hill to take up new teaching positions.
Swinton has been a rugular face with both Coffs Rugby and Coffs Comets rugby league sides for over a decade.
Under the new format, four games will be played at Rugby Park beginning with under 16's at 11am.
First grade kicks off at 3pm.
COFFS RUGBY 2006
David McCartney, Daniel Bavister, Rod Deighton and Aaron Stevens.
Nick Joyce, Paul Gooley, Buster McCowatt, Hugh Campbell, Brendan Hoy, Nathan Smith and Matt Timmins.
Today's first grade lineup
1 - Matt Hoy
2 - Cameron Wainwright
3 - Duncan Chubb
4 - Dan Bavister
5 - Connor Barret (c)
6 - Chris Webb
7 - David McCartney
8 - Matt Kent
9 - Wayne Dean
10 - Angus Garland
11 - Alex Hulme
12 - Aaron Stevens
13 - Kevin Simpson
14 - Robert Swinton
15 - Rod Deighton
Bench: Mika Kama, Paul McAra and Pete Cahill.