by Daniel McKenzie and Mitchell Craig
MULLUMBIMBY's Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League (NRRRL) return will be even more emotional this weekend when they host Murwillumbah for the inaugural Grant Cook Cup.
Cook played for both clubs and died at a Gold Coast hospital after collapsing on the field playing for Murwillumbah in the preliminary final last year.
This Sunday will be the first time Mullumbimby has played at home since 2015, after they were forced to sit out last season due to a lack of players.
It will be a tough test against the defending premiers who have only played one game since Cook died, when they won last year's grand final in an emotion-filled display against Cudgen.
"It certainly will be emotional and Grant had plenty to do with both clubs,” Mullumbimby committee member Steve Butler said.
"It all happened not that long ago and it's a memory that won't fade away any time soon. We'll have Grant's parents, Geoff and Jean, there to present the cup to the winning captain.”
An almost unfamiliar Murwillumbah side will take the field against one of their fiercest rivals, with coach Nathan Jordan expecting only up to seven players from last year's side to make the final squad.
Jordan said while Cook meant so much to the club, his new-look side would try to harness their emotions leading into the match; an approach which helped to honour Cook with last year's premiership.
"We haven't spoken about it (Grant Cook Cup) much as a group yet as it can get blokes' emotions too stirred up,” Jordan said.
"We'll take the same path as the grand final, but it would be great to win for him for sure.”
Despite disruptions in their build up to the season by injuries, player departures and three weeks of enduring a flooded Stan Sercombe Oval, Jordan was confident his side would lift, with a top five finish still a strong focus.
"We're still a bit underdone, but we'll give some young guys a go and we're still waiting on two to three players to add to the squad,” Jordan said.
"Being a local derby, it will be a spiteful clash, and I'm sure it will be pretty spicy out there on the field.”
Games start from noon at Les Donnelly Field, Mullumbimby.