Northam clear to play

STRIKE centre Ben Northam has been cleared to take his place for Taree in Sunday’s Group Three Rugby League reserve grade grand final against Port City at Wauchope.

Northam was replaced injured during the second half of the first grade final last week. However, Taree coach Shawn Burnes said Northam has assured he’ll be fit to tackle the Breakers.

“Ben’s away working at the moment, but I spoke to him earlier in the week and he said he’s right,’’ Burnes said.

“We’ll be having a light run on Saturday and he’ll be here for that.’’

Steve Simon will also come into the side on the wing.

However, the Bulls have lost halfback Ray Hutton, who injured his leg in the final win over Wauchope last Sunday.

Burnes said he intends to use under 18 stars Trae Clarke and Josh Northam off the bench providing both pull through their grand final without any problems.

Taree threw away an 18-6 halftime advantage against the Breakers in the major semi before losing 24-18. Burnes admits the side ‘shut up shop’ to early on that occasion, but he’s confident they’ve learnt from that experience.

Burnes says he has potential match winners in fullback Aiden Avery, centres Northam and Nathan Maher along with halfback Mick Hawkins, who has been in strong form all season.

He revealed that lock Mick Hardy, player of the match in the win over Wauchope, stood down from the captaincy before that game.

“Mick said he wanted to concentrate on his football - it seemed to work,’’ Burns said.

However, he understands the Breakers have plenty of big match experience, led by halfback Dean Rogerson and second rower Brock Baird, the group’s reserve grade player of the year last season.

“But we’ll be ready for them,’’ he assured.

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