Country wins fans' support
COUNTRY Origin will have an army of maroon-eyed supporters at their backs when they head into battle against City Origin at BCU International Stadium tonight.
The fans turned out in force when the team arrived in City Square yesterday lining up to appear in souvenir photographs and collect autographs from their favourite players.
Many signed their best wishes on a message board set up by Group 2 sponsors Carlton and by 9.30am the board had little more than a few blank spaces remaining.
Names and adresses mentioned every bush location from Walcha to Cundletown and several left greetings to favourite participants.
Michael Dylan and Kristy Munday arrived specially to meet Preston Campbell.
"Preston is the best," Michael said.
"I used to be a Bulldogs fan but now I support the Titans and he's my favourite player.
"We're really excited about the game and are going to get our tickets now."
The return by Gold Coast to the NRL and their visit during February has turned many supporters into Titans fans.
"I was a Roosters and City Origin fan when I lived in the city but since moving to Coffs I've swapped allegiances," local footy fan Mike Jobson said.
"Now I'm right behind the Country Origin boys and the Gold Coast Titans are my number one team.
"I can't make it to the match and will watch on television but it's really fantastic to be able to come down here to meet them."
Barry Gardiner, who's been around local sport for decades remarked how tired the players looked, even after two rest days.
"The schedule for them must be terribly draining and I think the match should have been played Friday night," he said.
"Naturally, I'll be going to the game and supporting Country Origin as it's great to have them here after all these years."
While the Origin game will take top billing from 7.45 organisers have linked the match directly to the grass roots competition with a feast of lead-up matches.
Academy teams from Groups 2 and 3 will clash in under-16s while Coffs Harbour Comets and Woolgoolga Seahorses have brought forward the weekend's under-18 clash.
Group 2 Beautizone juniors will play exhibitions during all half time breaks.