Nhill Tigers bol­ster their ranks

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Footy Countdown - BY DEAN LAW­SON

There’s a tired old sport­ing ex­pres­sion that a cham­pion team will al­ways beat a team of cham­pi­ons.

And re­gard­less of the qual­ity of per­son­nel join­ing Nhill in Wim­mera Foot­ball League this year, when you break it down, that’s the over-arch­ing phi­los­o­phy new coach Tim Bone has adopted.

The truth is, Nhill has ex­pe­ri­enced one of its best pre-sea­son build-ups in years and for the first time in al­most a decade one of its great strengths ap­pears to be player depth.

The Tigers, de­spite a cou­ple of dis­ap­point­ing departures, have re­cruited strongly, not only bol­ster­ing the ranks with new­com­ers, but also wel­com­ing back home-grown play­ers.

It might well be that the strength of Nhill’s re­serves, pro­vid­ing all-im­por­tant pres­sure on se­nior po­si­tions, proves the cat­a­lyst for a Tigers rise this year.

The Tigers have farewelled Toohey Medal­list Billy Hayes, Cal­lum Sem­ple, Ben Kir­sopp, Jack Samp­son and Lu­cas Dahlen­burg with best wishes.

It is a de­par­ture list that would have knocked the stuff­ing out of

some pre­vi­ous Tiger team lists – but not so this year. The tal­ent slip­ping into Davis Park ap­pears, on pa­per at least, more than ad­e­quate to fill the gaps.

Bone, now 35, cut his teeth with the Tigers and in es­tab­lish­ing him­self as a slick goal-kick­ing run­ner, twice rep­re­sent­ing the Big W, and his last-hur­rah sea­sons prom­ise plenty.

Join­ing him this year are for­mer Maribyrnon­g cap­tain and on­baller Si­mon Cave, notable Bel­lar­ine and Gee­long league goal-kicker Scott Hughes, lofty ruck­man-key po­si­tion player Ben Jones and other new­com­ers Jess Mo­rano, Maribyrnon­g, and Stephen Craig, Ky­by­bo­lite.

For­mer Nhill play­ers Nick Bone, Jake Pil­grim and Mitch Dahlen­burg are also on the ‘in’ list and adding to over­all ex­cite­ment at club level is the re­turn of the likes of Ri­ley Launer, Nathan Jensz, Nathan Spar­ling, Mark Mcel­drew and Lach­lan Meek.

Tim Bone, who has played in Mackay in Queens­land for the past 10 years, said he was look­ing for­ward to the chal­lenge of lead­ing his home club and re­turn­ing to ‘full-on’ foot­ball.

“There has been a re­ally good buy-in from the play­ing group and it ap­pears we’re go­ing to have depth and youth,” he said.

“With the team be­ing down for a fair while, we have iden­ti­fied a need to mod­ify club cul­ture and for me that’s about lift­ing the bar in ev­ery­thing from train­ing stan­dards to ex­pec­ta­tions.

“We’re go­ing to be about ef­fi­ciency, work­ing hard to win and hang on to the foot­ball, and while we have a tough start to the sea­son, it would be nice to start off with a win.”

Bone said ‘strength in num­bers’ was a pri­or­ity for the Tigers.

“We won’t be re­ly­ing on par­tic­u­lar in­di­vid­u­als – it is all about the team and who­ever is se­lected,” he said.

“We ex­pect ev­ery­one to come in and play a role and that’s what we will be all about – not one or two blokes do­ing the heavy lift­ing.

“We have a good list, a good mix and that’s why I think we can be se­ri­ously com­pet­i­tive.”

Tigers foot­ball di­rec­tor Matt Fritsch stressed that de­vel­op­ing a pos­i­tive, pro­duc­tive and healthy cul­ture through­out the club un­der­pinned much of what the Tigers were do­ing.

“The phi­los­o­phy is that cul­ture cre­ates suc­cess and the club needs to cre­ate that cul­ture be­fore we can de­mand that suc­cess,” he said.

“We’re mov­ing for­ward and look­ing to the fu­ture.

“We have con­sis­tently had be­tween 32 and 37 on the track for pre-sea­son, which is prob­a­bly the best we’ve had for five to 10 years.”

Mr Fritsch said for­mer coach Alan Ben­nett had laid solid foun­da­tions within the Tigers play­ing group and Bone was the right per­son to con­tinue the progress.

“We are con­fi­dent we have the right coach and the feel­ing around the foot­ball is great,” he said.

With Bone’s re­turn, the Tigers are plan­ning a re­union of Nhill’s 1998 un­der-16 pre­mier­ship team.

Nhill’s pre-sea­son prepa­ra­tions in­clude matches against Border­town and Padth­away.

The Tigers, in pro­vid­ing a re­gional blue­print as part of an over-arch­ing com­mu­nity sport­ing club, have ex­ten­sive fi­nan­cial sup­port from a lengthy list of spon­sors.

Jor­dan Zeitz

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