New faces at new stadium for opening round

Headshot of Cameron Newbold
Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser

Royals will unveil several new faces including prize recruits Sam Baddeley-Holmes and Arana O’Byrne in their season-opening clash with co-tenants Albany at the new Centennial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Lions and Sharks will kick off the new Great Southern Football League season at the mult-imillion dollar facility with Baddeley-Holmes and O’Byrne among a number of new players in the Lions line-up.

Baddeley-Holmes has returned to the Lions after playing with Borden in the Ongerup Football Association, for whom O’Byrne also played last season, with the pair confirmed starters against the Sharks.

Lions coach James McRae said the returning Lachy Jones would also play league in the opening round while colts players Jaxon Nottle and Corey Draper were in line for selection.

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Cameron Smith and Corey Ward were being considered by McRae but he admitted some players would be brought through the reserves.

“We have a few blokes that haven’t done a lot of work,” McRae said.

“We’ll probably reward the blokes who have trained.

“It won’t be our best side but it certainly will be a strong side that runs out.”

McRae said the Lions were buoyed by the first appearance for premiership points on the new ground.

“The oval is wide and soft underfoot, blokes will be tonging it,” he said.

“We got the keys to the club this week and its full steam ahead.

“It’s one of the best facilities in country WA and we have to make it our own. The Sharks will have the same level of excitement as us as it’s their home as well and I reckon they’ll throw everything at us on Saturday.”

Sharks will be led by new skipper Rick Wallis in the round 1 clash.

Coach Scott Sedgwick said his group were eager to kick off the year.

“There is great excitement around the group,” Sedgwick said.

“To have an actual home game, where the club can make money and our own change rooms, has created a great vibe.”

Sedgwick said his side’s senior players must lead from the front against the Lions.

“Especially from the middle, those senior guys have got to be strong around the ball,” he said.

“We will have at least two or three colts out there and we have to stop their run from half-back and easy ball movement into the forward line.”

The other round 1 fixture on Saturday will be between Denmark-Walpole and Mt Barker at McLean Park while the final match will be played on Tuesday — the Anzac Day clash featuring Railways and North Albany.

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