Like most years there is a lot of excitement going into the season. A few kids burning up the track. Some shinny new draftee showing promise, PBs, new coaching, a sense of optimism about the season ahead.
Unfortunately we have been disappoint by the end of June for over a decade now. So what’s changed this year?
For me it’s the instant plug and play players we have never added in an off season before. Looking through the fantastic work of Allblack I noticed that we only really have lost Watson and Kelly, two aging players. Watson, whilst still solid around the stoppages became a liability on the outside at times and Kelly was solid and lead from the front.
But over 2017 we saw the emergence of McKenna and Gleeson which in any normal offseason would cover the loss of an ageing Kelly. In the middle Lang, Lav, Begley, McGrath and a further rise of Parish would be a normal increase in optimism for a renewed midfield.
But this year, you take Kelly out and plug Saad in, which adds a whole new dimension to the backline. This also covers for McGraths move to the middle with the same level of run and carry.
The middle is a little less direct but we have added a smaller bull in Smith and the X factor of stringer around the stoppages as well. Essentially we have covered the loss of Watson around the footy and added a truck load of explore run out of the stoppages and a kicking weapon in smith.
I genuinely believe we have a far better team this year to last. How much, tough to tell. But certainly enough to cover a tougher draw for a finals berth and most likely enough to climb the ladder further.
I’m picking top 4, how deep we go is entirely dependant on the mental application. Overcome the stink of loosing for a decade and the sky’s the limit.