By GREG WHITE
COFFS HARBOUR Sports Unit manager Ben Payne promises an extravaganza never seen before in country rugby league when the second Orara Valley Sevens tournament is held on the Australia Day long weekend.
"We are 98 per cent towards completing the program and let me promise you, it's big," Payne said.
"The minor glitches from the initial event have been sorted and we have something special lined up."
Like, 40 of the best NRL players from the past two decades taking part in a series of Old Boys demonstration matches.
And, current premiership stars turning out in NRL club colours.
The tournament begins at the International Stadium on January 26 before moving to Coramba Colliseum for the hard two day slog to the winners circle.
"The Coast and Valley Opens and Under 18's will take centre stage at the Stadium to open the contest," Payne said.
"This is a local event hosted by the Axemen so they'll form the basis of the combined side taking on international visitors."
Teams representing Ireland, Fiji, Japan, Cook Islands and the New Zealand Maori are among many on the guest list.
"The appearance of the South Sydney Rabbitohs will be one of the highlights," Payne said.
"They have strong links to Orara and a huge following at grass roots level."
For the first time, the Men of League golf day and dinner will be repeated in a country area.
Payne said the 'Men' never host a dinner in the same area twice, but as the first event was so successful, the dose is to be repeated.
The heat experienced last January has forced changes to the weekend program.
"The Saturday matches will conclude after 1pm," Payne said.
"The NRL Old Boys will play feature matches in between pool rounds and again before the finals are played on Sunday."
A prize purse has been introduced for the best country team participating.
"There was concern last time the visitors were cleaning up at the expense of the locals," he said.
"Again it's something we've fixed to make this a stronger tournament."