DREAM TEAM ASSEMBLED: Lower Clarence Magpies man Ryan Binge, Grafton Ghosts product Anthony Don and South Grafton Rebels star Hughie Stanley were all voted into the Clarence Valley Dream Team of the Decade. Photos: Matt Elkerton, Debrah Novak
DREAM TEAM ASSEMBLED: Lower Clarence Magpies man Ryan Binge, Grafton Ghosts product Anthony Don and South Grafton Rebels star Hughie Stanley were all voted into the Clarence Valley Dream Team of the Decade. Photos: Matt Elkerton, Debrah Novak

Clarence Rugby League Dream Team of the Decade

The Daily Examiner has been compiling the Clarence Valley Rugby League Team of the Decade

 

• Each position was put to an online reader poll

• Players in the poll come from our South Grafton Rebels, Grafton Ghosts and Lower Clarence Magpies teams of the decade

Fullbacks, wingers, centres, halves, back rowers, front rowers and coach have all been decided

• See the final team as voted by you, the readers, below

 

AFTER almost three months of voting for The Daily Examiner's Clarence Valley Rugby League Dream Team of the Decade, the final squad has been locked in.

The region has seen its fair share of A-grade bush footy pedigree over the past 10 years including some NRL quality talent.

Several of the 17 players selected have represented multiple clubs in the region. However, the club with the most allegiances was Grafton Ghosts, with 12 current or former players, while Lower Clarence Magpies had five and South Grafton Rebels six.

The makeup of the squad comes as no surprise after the Ghosts' dominant spell led them to five premierships over 10 years across the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League and Group 2 competitions.

Back-to-back Group 2 titles for the Rebels in 2015 and 2016 as well as a 2009 NRRRL premiership to the Magpies show that success runs through the veins of the Clarence.

 

1. ANTHONY DON

Former Grafton Ghost Anthony Don of the Gold Coast Titans scores a try during the round eight NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Cronulla Sharks at Cbus Super Stadium on July 04, 2020 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
Former Grafton Ghost Anthony Don of the Gold Coast Titans scores a try during the round eight NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Cronulla Sharks at Cbus Super Stadium on July 04, 2020 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Opening up the list is the biggest name on the sheet and a man still tearing it up for the Gold Coast Titans, Anthony Don.

The most successful Ghost at the elite level, Don burst onto the scene as a skilful junior and despite moving on to the Burleigh Bears early in the decade and then the Titans, Don was unrivalled on his pure ability and edged Magpies back Rob Howard for the fullback role.

Is Don, is good.

 

2. MITCH LOLLBACK

Grafton Ghosts livewire Mitch Lollback in action at Frank McGuren Field. Photo Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner
Grafton Ghosts livewire Mitch Lollback in action at Frank McGuren Field. Photo Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner

Lighting it up from the wing is one of the paciest players to don the blue and white, Mitch Lollback. A jack-rabbit that has played a big part in the Ghosts' ongoing success, Lollback makes up for size with agility and brains.

 

3. DYLAN COLLETT

 

OFF AND GONE: Grafton Ghosts centre Dylan Collett sets sail for the tryline against the Sawtell Panthers in 2019.
OFF AND GONE: Grafton Ghosts centre Dylan Collett sets sail for the tryline against the Sawtell Panthers in 2019.

Filling the centre positions are two dynamic players that are a true testament to the modern game.

The first is Ghosts try-scoring machine Dylan Collett, who leads the charge from the inside, leaving his opponents to pick up the pieces. It's a wonder he hasn't gone on to the next level.

 

4. DAN RANDALL

 

LEADER: Lower Clarence Magpies captain Dan Randall works hard to inspire his team against the Ballina Seagulls. Photo: Sport-In-Digital
LEADER: Lower Clarence Magpies captain Dan Randall works hard to inspire his team against the Ballina Seagulls. Photo: Sport-In-Digital

A former Magpie and Rebel, Dan Randall was menacing any time he touched the ball. Randall was big, fast and strong, a deadly combination.

Ghosts man Aaron Hartmann just missed the cut behind the pair.

 

5. MITCH GORMAN

 

Mitch Gorman attempts to break free of a South Grafton tackle in a local derby at McKittrick Park.
Mitch Gorman attempts to break free of a South Grafton tackle in a local derby at McKittrick Park.

Mitch Gorman lines up on the opposite flank to the Ghosts' namesake for the Dream Team. Another speed demon, Gorman has paired brilliantly with his inside centre Collett to destroy every defence in his group.

Magpies man Mikey Randall came in at third best during polling.

 

6. HUGHIE STANLEY

Rebel Hughie Stanley with the ball during the first grade rugby league match between South Grafton Rebels and the Sawtell Panthers at McKittrick Park South Grafton, 2016. Photo Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner
Rebel Hughie Stanley with the ball during the first grade rugby league match between South Grafton Rebels and the Sawtell Panthers at McKittrick Park South Grafton, 2016. Photo Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner

Getting to the playmakers now, another former South Grafton and Lower Clarence man in Hughie Stanley takes the all-important role of five-eighth.

Stanley possesses a killer instinct and a knack for the game that very few havee.

Classy Ghosts back Dan Roberts finished second behind him.

 

7. RYAN FARRELL

Grafton Ghosts captain Ryan Farrell during an NRRRL match at McGuren Field. Photo Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner
Grafton Ghosts captain Ryan Farrell during an NRRRL match at McGuren Field. Photo Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner

Edging back into Ghosts territory, halfback is inhabited by Dream Team captain fantastic, Ryan Farrell.

The former Grafton star left a lasting impression on the club and could always be trusted to lift his teammates when they needed him most.

Lower Clarence man Dallas Waters came in second in the polls.

 

8. XAVIER SULLIVAN

 

Rebels’ bulldozer Xavier Sullivan braces for impact during the South Grafton Rebels and Coffs Harbour Comets Group 2 major semi-final in 2016 at McKittrick Park.
Rebels’ bulldozer Xavier Sullivan braces for impact during the South Grafton Rebels and Coffs Harbour Comets Group 2 major semi-final in 2016 at McKittrick Park.

True to the name, the prop holds the front line together and is heavily relied upon to halt the opposition's attack. Former Magpies and Rebels enforcer Xavier Sullivan did just that, providing a great wall of defence while barging through even the toughest lines.

 

9. TODD CAMERON

 

Adam Slater, Todd Cameron, Mitch Gorman and Dylan Collett at Frank McGurren Field for the announcement of Cameron’s new role as coach-captain of the Grafton Ghosts ahead of the 2020 season.
Adam Slater, Todd Cameron, Mitch Gorman and Dylan Collett at Frank McGurren Field for the announcement of Cameron’s new role as coach-captain of the Grafton Ghosts ahead of the 2020 season.

Earning his place in Clarence Valley rugby league royalty is Grafton Ghosts' newly appointed captain-coach Todd Cameron, who edged out beloved Rebels man and one-time fellow Ghosts, Rhys Walters, for the role of hooker.

Cameron has been one of the most consistent performers in the Valley throughout the decade and is as tenacious as they get, battling through thick and thin to push his side to victory.

 

10. RYAN BINGE

Ryan Binge makes a strong run through the Evans Head defence for Lower Clarence. Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner
Ryan Binge makes a strong run through the Evans Head defence for Lower Clarence. Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner

Magpies and Ghosts hard man Ryan Binge packs into the front row with his burly frame and surprising nimbleness on the ball.

Forget about Netfilix, this is a Binge that will have you on the edge of your seat. Grafton UK import Adam Slater was a close third in the polls.

 

11. GRANT STEVENS

South Grafton Rebels captain Grant Stevens leads his team onto McKittrick Park for the start of the Group 2 grand final against Grafton Ghosts on Sunday, 11th September, 2016.
South Grafton Rebels captain Grant Stevens leads his team onto McKittrick Park for the start of the Group 2 grand final against Grafton Ghosts on Sunday, 11th September, 2016.

Rebels stalwart Grant Stevens takes up a spot in the second row. 'Stumpy' is one of the toughest players Group 2 has ever seen and his inspirational presence played a big part in his side's dual premierships in the middle of the decade.

 

12. DANNY WICKS

Danny Wicks during his two-year stint with the Parramatta Eels in the NRL before his triumphant return junior club Grafton Ghosts where he won Group 2 premierships in 2017 and 2019. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Danny Wicks during his two-year stint with the Parramatta Eels in the NRL before his triumphant return junior club Grafton Ghosts where he won Group 2 premierships in 2017 and 2019. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

Lining up alongside Stevens is a huge name in bush footy, Danny Wicks. The former Newcastle Knights and Parramatta Eels NRL star found himself back at his boyhood club and was a huge influence on an incredibly dominant side.

There are no doubt a few opponents out there still feeling the effects of tackling the big man in full stride. Narrowly missing out was fellow Ghost Ben McLennan.

 

13. DON DICKSON

Don Dickson runs out onto Frank McGuren field for an NRRRL first grade grand final.
Don Dickson runs out onto Frank McGuren field for an NRRRL first grade grand final.

Ensuring the Ghosts defence is always on lock, DON DICKSON was a hard man that loved a scrap. Edging out fellow battler Grant Brown, Dickson was one difficult customer.

MASTER CLASS: Ghosts first grade coach Col Speed spends a light-hearted moment with players Daniel Lollback and Oliver Percy before their clash with Cudgen in 2010/2011. Photo: Gary Nichols/The Daily Examiner
MASTER CLASS: Ghosts first grade coach Col Speed spends a light-hearted moment with players Daniel Lollback and Oliver Percy before their clash with Cudgen in 2010/2011. Photo: Gary Nichols/The Daily Examiner

Tasked with the challenge of tying it all together, there is no better man for the job than former Ghosts super coach COL SPEED. Leading the Ghosts to back-to-back NRRRL premierships and a Clayton Cup in 2010 and 2011, Speed has had an illustrious career but found a great deal of his success at Grafton. The Dream Team has the need for Speed.

So there you have it, The Daily Examiner Clarence Valley Rugby league Dream Team of the Decade. Thanks for helping us decide who made the final cut, if only we could watch them play together …

 

CLARENCE VALLEY RUGBY LEAGUE DREAM TEAM OF THE DECADE

1. Anthony Don (Grafton Ghosts)

2. Mitchell Lollback (Grafton Ghosts)

3. Dylan Collett (Grafton Ghosts)

4. Dan Randall (Lower Clarence Magpies/South Grafton Rebels)

5. Mitch Gorman (Grafton Ghosts)

6. Hughie Stanley (South Grafton Rebels/Lower Clarence Magpies)

7. Ryan Farrell (Grafton Ghosts)

8. Xavier Sullivan (Lower Clarence Magpies/South Grafton Rebels)

9. Todd Cameron (Grafton Ghosts)

10. Ryan Binge (Lower Clarence Magpies/Grafton Ghosts)

11. Grant Stevens (South Grafton Rebels)

12. Danny Wicks, Grafton Ghosts

13. Don Dickson (Grafton Ghosts)

14. Rhys Walters (South Grafton Rebels/Grafton Ghosts)

15. Aaron Hartmann (Grafton Ghosts)

16. Grant Brown (Lower Clarence Magpies/South Grafton Rebels)

17. Ben McLennan (Grafton Ghosts)

Coach: Col Speed (Grafton Ghosts)



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