Big game awaits Ballina and Byron Bay this weekend

LOCAL DERBY: Former NRL players Todd Carney and Luke Douglas will captain-coach their respective teams when Ballina host Byron Bay in NRRRL on Sunday. Photo Mitchell Craig.

LOCAL DERBY: Former NRL players Todd Carney and Luke Douglas will captain-coach their respective teams when Ballina host Byron Bay in NRRRL on Sunday. Photo Mitchell Craig.

A REJUVENATED Byron Bay could be a dark horse for the premiership as Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League heats up.

The Red Devils are coming off three straight wins after a poor start to the season and can make a statement in a big game against Ballina on Sunday.

The local derby usually has some extra spice with former NRL players Todd Carney and Luke Douglas also playing.

Carney is captain-coach at Byron Bay while Douglas has the top job at Ballina.

Both men have wins over former Gold Coast Titans fullback Michael Gordon who is captain at the Tweed Coast Raiders this season.

"It's great for bush footy and a good way for guys to give something back to the game," Carney said.

"We've got four to five young guys coming into first grade and I'm here teach them as much as I can, too.

"There is always plenty of talking going into a Ballina game and everyone will be keen for that."

Byron Bay has the likes of club juniors Harry Chapman, Ben Moyle, Jedd Windle and Kolbi Wood playing first grade.

The inclusion of prolific try-scorer Abele Atunaisa and Tom Merritt along with the likes of front-rower Matt Croker has helped them in recent weeks.

"We've put ourselves in a position to play finals and that's the main thing," Carney said.

"Ballina is always a big game and we haven't beaten them in the three years I've been playing here.

"This might be our best chance and I'm confident for the rest of the season."

After the Ballina game, Byron Bay plays teams all below them on the ladder with four rounds to go.

Ladder: Cudgen 20, Ballina 18, Murwillumbah 18, Marist Brothers 16, Evans Head 12, Tweed Coast 12, Byron Bay 12, Northern United 10, Bilambil 8, Casino 6, Mullumbimby 4, Kyogle 4, Lower Clarence 4