DALEY DUTY: Six Clarence stars join Titans, Bulldogs squads
RUGBY LEAGUE : Clarence Valley juniors will make up a strong contingent in the Laurie Daley Cup and Andrew Johns Cup competitions next year after six players were picked across North Coast and Northern Rivers sides.
Grafton Ghosts under-18 stars Hayden Ensbey and Elliot Speed will remain in blue for the North Coast Bulldogs Laurie Daley Cup side, while South Grafton's Jordon Gallagher will don the Northern Rivers Titans' blue and gold.
Joining Gallagher in the Titans under-18 side will be Clarence Coast Magpies junior, Jamal Laurie, while his clubmates, Michael Hughes and Nick Torrens have been selected to play in the Titans under-16 squad.
Former Ghosts under-18s coach Shaun Davidson will coach the Titans under-18 side after leading the under-16s to the Andrew Johns Cup title earlier this year but he was happy to see Speed and Ensbey get the call-up.
"They are a couple of great kids that really deserve their spot, that's for sure," Davison said.
"Speedy was the Group 2 player of the year last season and Hayden was the best forward in the under-18s. They were two outstanding performers in a season that didn't go our way."
Davison recently returned from a tour of the United Kingdom in charge of the Country Rugby League under-16 side and he said Grafton keeps on developing top young talent.
"Those two kids are ready for higher grade, here or somewhere else. The club have had some big success developing great juniors and that keeps on going," he said.
Davison said it's a strange platform for kids in the Clarence, with the Magpies playing up north as well as both the Ghosts and Rebels up until under-16s.
"It's difficult with Grafton's seniors playing in Group 2 and their juniors in Group 2," he said.
"We were able to have an exemption to keep Jordan Gallagher with us from the Rebels. He's a great kid, he played hooker with us last year and I'm looking forward to working with him again."
Davison will need to drop his ties to the Ghosts when his Titans under-18 side comes up against the Bulldogs next season.
"We'll play the Bulldogs twice, it will be a strange experience but I've done it before so I know what to expect," he said.
Davison has been honing his skills as a coach for some time and the successful CRL tour has only built on an already impressive resume.
"It was a great experience and I've learnt a lot with that side," he said.
"We (the Titans) won the lot last season so hopefully we can do it with the under-18s next year."