Hornets will pack more sting

CUDGEN fans will get an early glimpse at the fruits of a formidable off-season recruitment drive tonight, when the Hornets rumble with Runaway Bay at Ned Byrne Field.

Finalists last year in all three Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League grades – first, reserves and under-18s – and reserve grade premiers, Hornets fans hold high hopes for 2011.

Promoted first grade captain-coach Craig Field has attracted a number of new faces to the club, with about 50 players regularly attending pre-season training.

Football operations manager Graeme Lawrence (pictured) was excited to be unveiling his new signings. He was confident they would add plenty of sting in attack and defence.

He even went as far as to say there was no reason that the Hornets shouldn’t be competing in the finals series in all grades again this year.

“We enjoyed a very competi- tive 2010 campaign and I’m confident of at least matching it in 2011. Supporters should be getting excited,” Lawrence said.

“As with any competitive season there is always a lot of hard work to be done, but barring injuries fans should see some exiting football this season.

“And with some of the 2010 premiership reserve graders looking for an A-grade birth, together with an under-18 side brimming with talent, the pressure for positions in all the starting sides will be immense.”

Among the notable inclusions up front are two former captain-coaches, in Tweed Coast Raiders renegade Matt Slattery and Byron Bay bruiser Simon Kelly.

Both experienced Northern Rivers campaigners, the pair will complement a pack brimming with big talent, like Stephen Kirkham and Dan Donovan.

“With the addition of Matt and Simon our forward pack will be amongst the biggest and most experienced in the league,” Lawrence said. “Throw in young prop forward Brady Upton, returning from an 18-month injury lay-off, and we’ve got a good, formidable mix up front.”

Ruled out through work commitments last year, local juniors Robert Prichard and 2006 premiership winner Scott Julius have also returned to the club, together with centre Cameron Roberts following his three years at Burleigh.

Roberts will most likely part- ner young three-quarter Josh Sleba in the centres, who, a year older and wiser, possesses exiting talent beyond his years, while versatile centre come second-rower Djarn Jarrett, a Mid North Coast representative player, will add greatly to the Hornets’ depth.

“You can see why Fieldy is running around like a 35-year-old,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence has one further surprise up his sleeve for tonight, if he can keep the monster unit under wraps.

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