Port Dou­glas primed for sea­son opener un­der lights

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - SPORT - Rod Kil­ner

THE Port Dou­glas Crocs will host the Cen­trals Bulldogs in an his­toric home match un­der lights next Thurs­day at the Port Dou­glas Sports Com­plex.

The Crocs are train­ing hard in the lead-up to the open­ing game of the Cairns Aus­tralian Foot­ball League sea­son.

The pre-sea­son has seen the Crocs slowly build­ing, with the club assess­ing the form of a dozen or so new play­ers signed in the off-sea­son.

Coach Brad Cooper says there is likely to be eight to 10 new play­ers in the line-up for the open­ing round.

Cooper said he is ea­gerly await­ing the ar­rival of new play­ing as­sis­tant coach Braden Kasacof, who is due this week­end.

Kasacof, a key for­ward and ruck­man, has a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence in the West Aus­tralian State League, and will pro­vide much-needed height and on-field lead­er­ship.

Cooper said the club prob­a­bly won’t reach full strength for an­other five or six weeks, with play­ers yet to ar­rive and other key play­ers still to over­come se­ri­ous knee in­juries from last sea­son.

‘‘But it’s pleas­ing we’ve re­tained 80 per cent of our list from last year, which re­flects the im­prove­ment in the tourism in­dus­try in Port and the re­sul­tant em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties,’’ Cooper said.

‘‘The big­gest re­cruit for the club though has been the in­stal­la­tion of the lights, that’s al­lowed for longer train­ing ses­sions and a greater chance for play­ers to bond and blend as a team.’’

Cooper says he is still talk­ing to be­tween 14 and 15 play­ers in the hope of se­cur­ing their ser­vices.

Among those are sev­eral play­ers from Dar­win, where Cooper spent four days last week, in­clud­ing watch­ing the NTFL grand fi­nal.

The club is also try­ing to build a cul­ture of par­tic­i­pa­tion in the ju­niors, en­cour­ag­ing play­ers to test them­selves in the best stan­dard com­pe­ti­tion they can.

Sev­eral play­ers have also been en­cour­aged to go to Bris­bane to see how far they can go in the game.

With the ac­qui­si­tion of lights, the club be­lieves the ju­niors be­ing able to play games at home for the first time will en­cour­age growth in the sport.

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