Crocs keen to make amends for GF loss
THE Port Douglas AFL Crocs kicked off pre-season training last week minus a few stars from last year but still confident of being a finals force in 2011.
Gun midfielder Caydn Beetham heads the list of Crocs who will not lace up the boots in the new season, with premiership players Craig Shaw and Steve Lyons retiring.
The Crocs have also lost Paul Minchington, Matt Manns, Daniel Fisher, Lucas Teasdale and Chris Lewis from last year’s line-up which went through the regular season undefeated only to miss out on grand final glory against the Saints.
But coach Andy Viola remains optimistic, with several exciting new recruits among the 37 players who turned up for the first training session last Friday.
Among those was former Crocs best and fairest Ben Ryan, who had been playing for Central, and fellow Crocs premiership player John Green.
The Crocs have also pciked up ruckman Joe Barnett from South Australia,.
Onballer Dale Chunik who comes with big wraps as the captain and best and fairest from Kyneton in Victoria last season, Brad Lawler who has returned from Western Australia, champion rugby league player Ash Currie, who is giving AFL a go after training with the Northern Pride in recent seasons and Ryarn Worn, another former best and fairest making a big impression in the Northern Territory Football League this season.
Viola is also keen on the prospects of talented of juniors Tim Hanly, Jackson Brown, Karl Zammataro and Michael Doust making the grade.
Last season’s Crathern medallist Daniel Smith returned to the Crocs training paddock with vigour to blitz the field in the sprints last Friday and is keen to go one better this season while Queensland Country fullback Evan Hocking will again lead the side from the front as captain.
Viola said while it was disappointing to lose last year’s grand final, the club had learned a lot and earned the respect of every team in the competition again.
“There’s again that belief within the local community and the football public that the Crocs are a team to be reckoned with,” he said.
“We’ve lost some very good players but we’ve also gained quite a few and we’re still talking to three or four players we’re hopeful of bringing up here.
“In hindsight we probably got a bit carried away with winning every game last year and then when we got into the grand final there were a few players carrying injuries and we came up against a very experienced finals side. We’ll be a bit smarter this year and our short-term goal is to be in contention for the finals.”
The Crocs are doing fitness training at the Port Douglas Sports Complex on Monday and Wednesdays from 5.30pm with an optional skills session on Fridays.
Anyone keen to have a run this season is welcome to come and join them.
THE Port Douglas Mudcrabs might have had their game washed out on the weekend, but it didn’t stop this little fella from staking his claim for a bowl. The keen Muddie turned up at the ground ready to play and was disappointed to miss out on a game. Rumour has it C-Grade captain Steve Doble was last seen consoling his new teammate - with a pot of boiling water bubbling away in the background.
Ready for action: Daniel Smith is ready for the new season