Port Douglas primed for season opener under lights
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.