Gi­ants lick­ing their lips

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

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.

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