Raiders turn a new Page

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - SPORT -

WITH a new leader at the helm, the Reef Raiders are con­fi­dent of re­gain­ing the same scin­til­lat­ing form this sea­son that took them to premier­ship glory two years ago.

The Port Dou­glas side had a year to for­get in 2015, de­spite go­ing into the com­pe­ti­tion as favourites af­ter out­last­ing James Cook Univer­sity in the 2014 de­cider.

But now, as the club pre­pares to host its an­nual sev­ens tour­na­ment next month, the Reef Raiders are look­ing to re­claim their win­ning touch.

This year the club will be boosted by the ser­vices of Steve Page, a rugby guru who knows what it takes to go to an­other level.

A prod­uct of Nudgee Col­lege, Page went on to rep­re­sent the Sun­shine Coast Stingrays in the Bris­bane Premier Grade com­pe­ti­tion.

He now works for Queens­land Roads as their North Queens­land man­ager.

Al­though based in Cairns, he will both coach and play for the Port Dou­glas side in 2016.

“I played a cou­ple of games for them last year. I could see they had the tal­ent but just needed a lit­tle bit of struc­ture,” the 28-year-old said.

“But there are some great play­ers at the club and I can’t wait to be more in­volved this year.”

De­spite his ex­pe­ri­ence, Page ruled him­self out of cap­tain­ing the Reef Raiders this sea­son.

Reef Raiders vice-pres­i­dent and life mem­ber Ste­wart Cowe said Page’s in­clu­sion would be a great ad­di­tion for the club. “We’ve only done a few train­ing ses­sions this year but you can al­ready see the dif­fer­ence he has made,” Cowe said.

“He seems to be a nat­u­ral leader and ev­ery­one is happy to lis­ten to him.”

De­spite gain­ing Page for 2016, the Port Dou­glas side will need to re­cover from some big­name de­par­tures dur­ing the off-sea­son.

Ex­pe­ri­enced cam­paigner Grae Gil­bert is play­ing in Canada this year, while for­ward Adam Cal­craft is side­lined with a knee in­jury. But Cowe said this year’s squad was ca­pa­ble of step­ping up to the chal­lenge.

“Guys have been show­ing a lot of com­mit­ment at train­ing, and we have a cou­ple of tal­ented South Africans com­ing to play this year,” he said.

“I’m feel­ing op­ti­mistic, last year was tough, but there is a pretty good vibe around the club at the mo­ment.”

The Reef Raiders will host a sev­ens tour­na­ment on March 5 be­fore the FNQ Rugby sea­son kicks off in April.

Pic­ture: HAY­DEN SMITH

Port Dou­glas Reef Raiders play­ers An­thony Eldridge, Darcy Cot­ton and Ju­lian Weimar.

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