Tigers hit with exodus of talent

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser
Railways' Mitch Green gets his handball away.
Camera IconRailways' Mitch Green gets his handball away. Credit: Picture: Laurie Benson, Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Railways face the daunting task of replacing significant A-grade talent with dual Kleemann medallist Zane Marwick and the league’s leading goalkicker Kenton Gibbs leading the Tigers’ off-season losses.

After falling at the final hurdle last season, the Tigers will need to cover the loss of six grand final players including exciting youngsters Tom Wolfe and Nelson Kent, midfielder Chris Miller and reliable defender Scott Fielding this season.

But new coach Troy Leo is excited about the challenge of finding the next crop of youngsters to step into the league side having previously coached the club’s colts.

However, the experienced coach warned last season’s success would not be replicated without the club’s senior players looking to improve.

“Hopefully there will be a bit of growth from within the club,” Leo said.

“When you take one third of your grand final team out, we will need everyone to take up the slack.

“The younger guys will be pushing for opportunities early and we will have to spread the load.”

Among the Tigers’ inclusions this season are Katanning Wanderers midfielder Kane Shephard, Denmark-Walpole key forward Liam Park and the returning Matt Van Schayk from Newdegate.

Leo, who coached Kukerin-Dumbleyung to two league premierships in the Upper Great Southern Football League in 2005 and 2006, will be assisted by Lee Sounness and Royals premiership player Darryl Hart.

The new coach said replacing in particular decorated midfielder Marwick and Gibbs, who booted 43 goals to win the Sean Plaisted Medal, would not be easy.

“We have got a lot of exciting colts who will put their hands up,” he said.

“Every club wants to play in the grand final but realistically we want to play good footy at the start of the season and win early games so we are in the conversation at the end of the season.”

The Tigers take on cross-town rivals North Albany in a grand final rematch on Anzac Day to open the season.

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