Reigning premiers hungry for more

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
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Agile big man Jacob Hobbs will again have a big role to play for North Albany.
Camera IconAgile big man Jacob Hobbs will again have a big role to play for North Albany. Credit: Laurie Benson

North Albany are not content with five straight premierships and will chase a record-equalling sixth successive Great Southern Football League premiership with plenty of confidence as the new season starts this week.

Premiership coach Craig Dew has vowed his side are as hungry as ever to match the feat of Royals from 1999-2004 and they are prepared to do it without several stars from last year’s grand final triumph over Railways.

The Kangas will have to offset the loss of stars Jack McPhee and Alec Haskins, retired duo Stef Ericson and Marcus Trevenen, and youngsters Lachy O’Shea, Taj Williams and Ted Batchelor.

Haskins had made the switch back to Denmark-Walpole and McPhee is heading away travelling while Dew said vital midfielders Matt Orzel and Ray Padfield were yet to begin training and were no certainties to play in 2019.

Williams will play for Albany this season after kicking 32 goals from 13 games last year but missed out on grand final day. Dew, though, said he was buoyed by the club’s inclusions, which include dual Sean Plaisted medallist Daniel Parker, underrated wingman Nathan Crudeli, ruckman Daniel Pearson and returning pair Hamish Bigwood and Sam McPhee.

“It will be a challenge but it has been coming for a number of years,” Dew said.

“(Our losses) are significant in terms of experience but it gives us a really different look.

“We have so many exciting kids, lots of outside pace and we will play a different style, but that’s exciting.

“In that 20-25 age group we have got 14-15 in that and they’ve all played in a lot of premiership sides, so there is so much experience in that mid-tier group and we’ll lean on that.

“A big turnover of players means there is no complacency there, we still have guys that haven’t played in one.”

Luke Cameron has been appointed captain for the new season, with Nic Barrow his deputy.

The intriguing part of their tilt at a sixth straight flag is the Kangas will have to do it without Dew for a large part of the season.

Entering his fourth season as coach of the Kangas, Dew will take long service leave after the Landmark Country Football Championships and is away for 12 weeks stretching past the finals series.

Assistant coach Rod Gillies will take the reins in his absence, while Nathan Dovey has been added as an assistant this year.

Dew, however, was steadfast in his belief this group of players and coaches were capable of adding more premiership success.

Ball winner Jack McPhee is a major loss for the reigning premiers.
Camera IconBall winner Jack McPhee is a major loss for the reigning premiers. Credit: Albany Advertiser

“Our pre-season has been full of kids and that’s exciting,” Dew said.

“Guys like Heath Spinks, Alex Pearce and Talon Delacey will be so important to us.

“We are likely to only have 10 players from our premiership team play in round 1.

“But we are definitely not shying away from the fact we want to win.

“Our goal is 100 per cent to match Royals’ record of six straight, so we are going out to win it this year, get six in a row, and then better that run next year.”

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