Youth option for Pioneers in FNC rugby
WOLLONGBAR-Alstonville fullback Sam Kerry will become the youngest captain in Far North Coast rugby union when the Pioneers take on Byron Bay at the Byron Bay Recreation Ground today.
He only turns 21 next week and takes over from injured five-eighth Ben Damen, who is out with a season-ending knee injury.
"I have big shoes to fill and it will definitely be an honour," Kerry said.
"I was pretty shocked because we have guys in this team who have been captain before.
"I'm still fairly young but I feel like I've been around the team long enough now.
"It's a big game first up and I'm pretty quiet but I'll try to be a bit more talk- ative around the field."
Kerry joined the Pioneers as a 16-year-old after having played mainly soccer in Alstonville and he has already won two premierships.
He played in the NSW Country Colts team last year and has been one of the best players in the competition over the past two seasons.
There were plenty of captaincy options for coach John Jenkins with the 2015 captain-coach Bill Johnston still playing.
They also have the likes of front-rower Matt Wright and second-rower Matt Scott, who have played more than 500 games between them.
"I grew up in Wollongbar and watched guys like Ben Grayndler, Chief (Scott) and Ben Damen captain the team," Kerry said.
"I'm thrilled to take it on after those guys and there was no way I could have said no."
The Pioneers have dropped to third on the competition ladder after back-to-back losses and a string of injuries to key players.
Byron Bay need to keep winning to stay in the top four and have a big inclusion with former captain Harvey Bell named in the centres.
Bell was dominant in his previous stint at the club and has not played on the FNC since the 2015 grand final loss to Wollongbar.
"It's been a while since we lost two in a row and everyone will need to step up for this one," Kerry said.
"We've had Reece Brown come out of the woodwork over the past few weeks and he'll be handy to have at five-eighth."
In other games:
Lennox Head host Ballina in a top-of-the-table clash at Williams Reserve, Lennox Head.
The Trojans will wear special jerseys that will be auctioned after the game in support of mental health.
Casino take on Southern Cross University at Albert Park, Casino.
Casuarina Beach host Bangalow at Casuarina.
Lismore City has the bye.