Crocs keen to make amends for GF loss

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - SPORT -

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.

Photo by NEIL WEAVERS

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

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