Senior players key to Pies’ hopes

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Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser

Denmark-Walpole will rely heavily on their senior players, led by new co-captains Jak Phillips and Luke Marley, to help push the club back to the finals in the 2017 Great Southern Football League season.

Phillips and Marley have been installed as joint skippers of the Magpies, replacing Lee Gropp, who is among a stack of omissions from the side that was one win short of playing finals last season.

Gropp has decided to have a year away from playing.

He is joined by home-grown talent Tyler Stone and Sam Finigin, while 2016 regulars Dionne Woods, Josh Devitt-Boyd, Zac Davies and Jake Stewart are also big losses.

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Devitt-Boyd is playing colts at Claremont, while the Magpies have cut back on their travelling contingent with Davies, Lincoln East, Ash Smith, Woods and Aaron Croot not returning this season.

Fairest and best winner and runner-up for the Kleemann Medal Shayne Zanetti is among those senior players who loom as keys to the Magpies finals hopes.

Zanetti had a brilliant debut season in the GSFL, kicking 44 goals and polling 15 votes to be three adrift of Kleemann medallist Matt Smith.

Railways premiership players Hendrix and Paris Ropiha and former WAFL league player Ryan Gaerth join the Magpies to provide some much-needed experience, while William Neill, Bradley Pope and Matthew Teti are other inclusions.

Magpies coach Matt Candy said his side would be quite different from the one that ran out last season.

“We will have a really changed side this year,” he said. “We’ve got a few younger guys in there but we need a bit more depth.

“There will be a fair bit of reliance on our young stock along with our key senior players.”

Candy said his midfield group, with the likes of Gaerth, Kaden King-Davies, Brody Hickey, Paris Rophia and Josh Sara, had been working well and he expected youngsters Tom Candy and Ethan Dennis to debut early in the season.

“Our midfield are all working together nicely,” he said. “They are fit and have been doing well in our scratch matches.

“We want to have a spread of goalkickers and not rely on Zanetti as well.”

The Magpies have set their sights on returning to the finals — a realistic aim according to Candy.

“Have a competitive year and make the finals,” Candy said.

“You have to make them to start with and then go from there.

“We want to match it with and win games against the good sides and as long as we stick to our game plan that will happen.”

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