Hoy out to cap unplanned comeback with another title
By GREG WHITE
HEAVEN knows he's tried to retire so many times but the fickle finger of football fortune has veteran halfback Brendan Hoy poised for an unlikely addition to his bulging rugby resume. Another first grade premiership is a distinct possibility when he steers Coffs Harbour around in today's grand final clash with Dorrigo at Toormina's Rugby Park. Hoy announced his retirement after winning last year's Mid North Coast Zone decider, just as he'd done the year before. But when rookie half Damien Punch broke his collarbone in the last match of the regular season, club coach Paul Butcher sent an SOS to his most experienced assistant. "Brendan's fitness has come along one hundred per cent since he played that starring role in the major semi," Butcher said. "All along, and especially in the last two weeks, he knew he needed to play again at this level." The great halfback has a double chance for celebration as the under-18 team he coaches with Terry Rayner is also engaged. "The extra incentive for Brendan will help us in first grade," Butcher predicted. "Imagine the impression it's going to make on those young blokes knowing they can win a title and then have the boss go out later to chase a further title." Butcher has made one change to the side that downed the Rangers 23-0 two weeks ago. "Duncan Chubb is back and he goes onto the bench for Peter Cahill," he said. "But don't be surprised if he's in the starting lineup." Rangers coach Rod Beaumont has moved quickly to counter Hoy's selection by bringing Ryan Guest in at halfback in place of veteran Grant Lawler while moving Steve Guest to the back of the pack. "We intend to do things a bit different this time," Beaumont said. Asked to elaborate, he gave a knowing chuckle, "Let's say we'll go a whole lot better. "Lots of work has been done working out what we do at the breakdown and how we upset Coffs in lineouts." But while the invaders from the mountain seem full of confidence, Paul Butcher believes he has at least 10 of the best men on the field and a bracket of others ready to step up.
LOWER GRADES Coffs under-18's will be further strengthened by the return of rep forward Duncan Chubb for today's grand final clash with South West Rocks. The 27-21 win over the Gaolers in the major semi filled co-coach Brendan Hoy with confidence for the return bout. "The win was fabulous," he said. "The start to the season was really slow but they've built up to now look a great chance." While the Rocks appear to have an edge in the backline, Coffs will rely on their strong forward pack to get them over the line. South West Rocks are also engaged in the reserve grade encounter but face a herculian task taming the unbeaten Port Pirates who look best bets of the day.