Giants licking their lips
Excited and hungry for success! That pretty much sums up a general feeling flowing from the north as Southern Mallee Giants prepare for their foray into Wimmera league.
A politically correct message from the Giants is that they want to simply be competitive in their first season crossing over from Horsham District league.
But make no mistake, they want to make the finals and then push deeply into September action.
The Giants have established themselves as a regional flag-bearer as well as a dominating football force since forming as an amalgam of Beulah and Hopetoun clubs.
And they are sure to hit the ground running this year, especially in a highly anticipated season opener against Warrack Eagles, a club with which they are likely to establish a fierce rivalry.
Club president Brad Moore said preparations for a step into the Wimmera competition had gone well.
“It’s all good so far and things have been pretty smooth with no real hold-ups. In fact we’ve had no negative feedback from anyone,” he said. “We’re all looking forward to it. We want to win more games than we lose. That’s the starting point and if we can make it to the finals we’ll take it from there. We just want to be competitive and hope we’re not out place.”
The Giants are likely to have little trouble slipping into the groove but as new playing coach Coleman Schache revealed, will need to develop a fresh game plan and style.
“We’re pretty happy with how things are going. Everyone is training hard, everyone is getting to know the new recruits and we’re all excited with the new challenge ahead,” he said.
“We know we’re going to have to play to the strength of the team and that involves having a bit of a different structure to last year. We know we are also going to need to be fitter and more consistent.”
There will be various elements to restructuring the team. Big full forward Kain Robins has gone to coach Charlton, which means the Giants, as Schache admitted, ‘need to find 100 goals’.
“We’re going to be a little bit smaller, which means we will need to use our strength and speed,” Schache said.
But the Giants have some more than handy ‘ins’ with lively Ballarat Swans small forward Nick O’farrell, who led the Swans’ goal-kicking list last season, joining the team. The Giants signed up Josh Webster, who will join brother Ben, and have also picked up Mildura Imperials ruckman Reece Mcnally.
Another major signing that has slipped under the radar is Jimmy Wray, who captained the Waratahs in the Northern Territory Premier league.
Wray formed connections with Giants Sam Weddell and Brock Orval who played with the Waratahs during the summer.
Clint Burdett and Lou White will also be likely to return from injury this year.
The recruits appear likely to more than offset the likes of Robins, Luke Mahony, who has gone to Camperdown, premiership coach Shaun Monohan, returning to Mansfield, unavailable Tom Hallam and perhaps Dale Shannon, who is likely to retire to take up bench-coaching duties.
Schache said the approaching season loomed as a mystery for the Giants and the club needed to adapt quickly to the competition.
“We have to work on attack and defence weekly but what is motivating and exciting us at the moment is a desire to play Wimmera league finals,” he said.
Mr Moore said the Giants’ only concerns surrounded efforts to consolidate junior playing numbers.
“Our under-14s appear okay, although we’ll be making up numbers with a few younger ones. We have only about eight players in our under-17s which means we will forfeit games but will work with other clubs to at least provide scratch matches where possible,” he said.