Walking wounded: Redmen fight off injury troubles
RUGBY UNION: McKimms Grafton Redmen are struggling with an injury crisis on the eve of their round 11 showdown against Byron Bay at the Recreation Fields Byron Bay on Saturday.
And it could not have come at a worse time.
If you were a betting man you'd think hard about ticking a draw on your Sportsbet multi as nothing separates the two sides on the Coopers Far North Coast ladder.
Both teams sit on 29-points from five wins and five losses. Each have received nine bonus points and have a for-and-against of plus two.
But the problem facing Grafton is their mounting casualty list.
Up to eleven players have been sidelined in two grades leaving first grade coach Craig Howe and the selection panel scratching their heads.
First grade scrum-half Dom Bullock looks certain to miss the all-important clash along with fellow backs Dwayne Duke, Jake Harris, Luke Worthing and Trevor Walters.
Add to that several key forwards also missing in action and you end up with a side bearing little resemblance to the one that toppled Bangalow two weeks ago.
"Yeah, it's not ideal losing so many players. It will be a matter of how the guys coming into the side perform," Howe said.
"From past efforts the players we have brought into the side are playing good rugby. We are still in the mix and if we can come away with a win over Byron it still keeps us in touch with the top sides.”
"It looks like Dom may be out so Adam Smidt will fill Dom's shoes at half. He's played there before and has plenty of experience.”
"We'll have to rethink the make up of the backline and at this stage Keaton Ingram will move to fullback with Kyle (Hancock) back to five-eighth."
Howe admits it's hard to get a handle on Byron Bay with their unpredictable playing roster but one thing for sure is they are a different side on home soil.
"Byron have been beating some good sides so it's going to be tough. Who knows what side we are going to come up against, it's a bit of a lottery with them," Howe said
Grafton second grade have a bye while the Grafton Rubies will face-off against Byron with the President's Cup side away to Iluka.