NRRRL coaches reveal who they think will win grand final
MOST coaches are tipping Ballina, but Tweed Coast mentor Brent Kite believes Murwillumbah can win the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League grand final on Sunday.
And his opinion should count after coaching the Raiders to a 24-4 win over Ballina in the grand final at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina, last year.
Kite played at Manly in the NRL with Ballina captain-coach Jamie Lyon. They also played for NSW and Australia together and have remained friends since moving to the region.
"You would probably think Ballina but I'm a bit on the fence on this one," Kite said.
"Murwillumbah are one of only a few teams who could beat them this year and they'll definitely be up for it.
"Anything is possible in a grand final and I certainly wouldn't write off Murwillumbah.
"Jamie has done a great job at Ballina and they lost a few really good players after last year. They've been the form team all season.
"They probably will win but I wouldn't consider it a massive shock if Murwillumbah get up."
Cudgen coach Mark O'Grady has tipped Ballina and so has Mullumbimby's Dallas Waters.
Other NRRRL first grade coaches including Shane Robinson (Kyogle), Michael Woods (Marist Brothers) and Alwyn Roberts (Northern United) have firmly backed Ballina.
A big reason for all of them was the experience and leadership of Lyon at five-eighth and Murwillumbah picking up a handful of injuries in the preliminary final against Casino.
Elsewhere, Byron Bay coach Mick Foster and Evans Head's Tyler Iverson are both thinking Ballina.
Iverson coached Ballina to a premiership in 2015 while Foster led them in 2017 and 2018, winning a grand final in his first year as coach.
"Ballina should win. They've been the form team all year and don't make too many mistakes," Foster said.
"Lyon has been a class above with his kicking game and they don't give opposition teams anything."
Iverson added: "Murwillumbah played their guts out against Ballina in the major semi-final and could struggle to play that well again.
"Lyon is obviously the key; he also has plenty of players around him and they'll capitalise when the Mustangs make a mistake."