Kick-off time

By BOB ANTHONY

THE Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League season is about to kick off, and for the Murwillumbah Mustangs their goal is simple ? go one step better.

Last year, the Mustangs and Tweed Heads Seagulls battled out the 2005 grand final, with Murwillumbah falling at the final hurdle.

This year, without Tweed Heads in the competition, the Mustangs are looking to be the form side from Tweed, and are looking for a strong start tomorrow when they take on Lower Clarence at Stan Sercombe Oval in three grades.

For coach Con Theodossiou, it's vital his side can rack up competition points early in the season, since they face a somewhat disjointed draw.

Murwillumbah faces the Tweed Coast Raiders next week and then has a two-week break before facing South Grafton, which won't be fielding an A-grade side.

They aren't the only Tweed club affected by the draw, but Theodossiou said it made it all the more important to get a positive start to the season.

"Our players are just ready to play football after a long pre-season," Theodossiou said.

The Mustangs will include former NSW country fullback Gary Dowling in the centres and former Byron Bay forward Matt Slattery in the second row.

The only concern for Theodossiou was the health of his front row, particularly Matt Chadburn.

He expected Lower Clarence to bring a strong squad and would be particularly wary of key playmaker Jason Wilkinson.

"He's a very smart footballer and knows how to steer a side around the paddock," he said.

Murwillumbah will be taking on the the visitors in all three grades, with the under-18s kicking off at noon.

Traditionally the Mustangs have had plenty of home-town support and Theodossiou hoped better weather would mean a good home crowd for the season-opener.



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