Big year ahead for new-look league

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sports - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Enor­mous ex­pec­ta­tion sur­rounds a new-look Horsham Dis­trict foot­ball league as teams pre­pare to lock horns for open­inground com­pe­ti­tion this week­end.

The league has un­der­gone a trans­for­ma­tion with the shift of reign­ing pre­miers South­ern Mallee Gi­ants to Wim­mera league and club lead­ers ex­pect a sig­nif­i­cant rise in com­pet­i­tive­ness to quickly emerge.

There was a broad sense that a chasm be­tween the Gi­ants and the rest of the field, apart from Har­row-bal­moral, was only go­ing to get wider and most teams have wel­comed the move.

But pre­dic­tions of a con­trac­tion in the com­pe­ti­tion, where most teams have a fight­ing chance each week, re­mains to be seen and fans will get their first glimpse this Satur­day of what lays ahead.

It is ob­vi­ously hard to pin­point a match of the round with ex­cite­ment and con­fi­dence high in a va­ri­ety of camps. One game that does seem to stand out is a sea­son opener be­tween Kal­kee and La­harum at Kal­kee.

The Kees have gen­er­ated plenty of dis­cus­sion dur­ing the pre-sea­son with new joint coach Stu­art Farr promis­ing the club un­der di­rec­tion from him­self and Hamish Ex­ell will play an ‘ex­cit­ing and fast’ brand of foot­ball.

The Kees have at least 10 new or re­turn­ing play­ers, which is also sig­nif­i­cant, and among the in­com­ing group are prom­i­nent on-field stan­dard-set­ters Si­mon Hobbs and Lachie Ex­ell.

La­harum might also have a new look with its own list of new­com­ers un­der sole coach Rob­bie Miller, al­ready match fit af­ter a stint in Dar­win foot­ball. Cam Streeter, Heath Macinnes, Liam Nuske and James Milich join the group and all eyes will be on North­ern Ter­ri­tory re­cruits Daly Banks, Jack Ni­col­son and James Ar­ratta.

Other games will gen­er­ate as much in­ter­est, none more so than a con­test be­tween Na­timuk United and arch ri­val No­rad­juha-quan­tong at Na­timuk.

Na­timuk United has had a sniff of fi­nals ac­tion and has a list this year that in­cludes Garry Hal­lam as as­sis­tant un­der Sam An­son and oth­ers such as Jay­den Styles and Jack Ford.

No­rad­juha-quan­tong goes into the sea­son main­tain­ing its mys­tery-and-po­ten­tial sta­tus with new coach Gareth Hose in charge of an ever-emerg­ing young crop of play­ers.

Ex­pec­ta­tions are also high at Ru­pa­nyup, which will travel to play Eden­hope-ap­s­ley at Eden­hope.

Ru­pa­nyup has also picked up qual­ity play­ers from Dar­win who will gather un­der young coach Jack Mus­grove.

Denny Mus­grove, Zac Robin­son and Chris Par­ris will join Hugh Mc­mur­trie in the Pan­thers colours, along­side Matt Tyler, and the camp is ex­cited with what the sea­son holds.

Mean­while, Chris Oliver has the job of mar­shal­ing the Saints troops and to counter a string of depar­tures has the likes of Damian Mon­aghan, Jak Ryan and Chris Heath to help re­de­velop his group.

Self-con­fessed foot­ball project Tay­lors Lake will gain early in­sight if the work go­ing into re­build­ing the team will have long-term div­i­dends when it plays Jeparit-rain­bow.

Jye Smith is back lead­ing the Lak­ers and this year has had time to work with a rel­a­tively set­tled group.

ACROSS THE LEAGUES

Wim­mera In­sight

Tim Inkster is lead­ing Jeparit-rain­bow, which has had a pro­duc­tive re­cruit­ing drive, pick­ing up a string of play­ers from South Aus­tralia.

Kurt Wa­ter­man, Brad Hunter and Tom Eich­ner join new as­sis­tant coach Daniel Bat­son and Wayne Bat­son.

Last year’s run­ner-up Har­row-bal­moral will open its sea­son with a con­test against Pimpinio at Bal­moral.

If the South­ern Roos fol­low coach Nick Pekin’s di­rec­tion they will play no-non­sense foot­ball and more than com­pen­sate for a string of player depar­tures.

Ruck­man Todd Lawrence is among new­com­ers to join an al­ready tall list.

Pimpinio has ex­pe­ri­enced Nathan Sachse at the helm and if the Tigers were look­ing to gauge where they needed to im­prove this year then they will find out first game.

Pimpinio has plenty of ground to make up to be suc­cess­ful but the club has plenty of spirit and needs cir­cum­stance to fall its way to turn trac­tion into mo­men­tum.

Hamish Ex­ell

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