Nomads look to swallow Swans

New England out for redemption in season starter
by Michael Morrisey (Armidale Express, 21/04/2006)

The New England Nomads will be after blood when they take on the Tamworth Swans at Tamworth’s number one oval tomorrow.

The Nomads will look to go one up in the first round of the Tamworth Aussie Rules season as well as getting square with the Swans squad who beat them in the final of the Tablelands Cup at the start of the month [Actually, the Swans won the TAFL Preseason Cup, it was the Roos that took the honours at the Tablelands Cup].

However the Nomads will have to dig deep according to captain-coach Adrian Walsh as several key players as several key players are away for the university holidays.

“We won’t be full strength unfortunately because students are away but I see no reason why we can’t win,” Walsh said. “We’ve got a three-quarter strength side.”

The squad will be a mixture of veterans and newcomers afer New England spent the off-season recruiting.

In order to score the win, the Nomads will be looking for solid performances from Tom Hunt and Mark Kelly.

Hunt, a tall gangly ruckman in the mould of Hawthorn’s Spider Everitt, was runner-up in last year’s TAFL player of the year, while Mark Kelly is a fast and powerful centre.

Walsh is also hoping his forwards, particularly Western Australian import Weston Whitby and Glen Northway, will fire after last year’s seaon where the front line struggled to put the pill between the posts.

“Weston has been playing on the ball in half-forward flank and he’s starting to get a few kicks around the place,” Walsh said.

“Glen’s a big forward and we’re looking for hime to score a few goals.

“So these are the guys that we’re looking to see how they go and then there’s the guys like Ben Horne and Gus McKenzie who’ve been there for a few years and I expect them to keep doing as they have done in the past.”

Walsh has been using drills at training to work with the forward line.

“The thing I’ve been pleased with is how we’ve been playing with endeavour,” he said.

“The biggest problem last year was that we didn’t have a forward line set-up. The thing I’m hoping to get out of this is the forward line starting to work.

“Last year a lot of the time we had more of the ball but we weren’t converting it.

“As far as the forward line goes we’re pretty much full strength.

“In training we’ve been trying to work on how we move the ball to the forward line and how to get the ball to who we’re looking for so hopefully that will pay dividends.”

The only cause of concern for Walsh is that his defensive backs are under strength with several key players still home for the holidays.

“There’s a few away but we’ve got a bye next week and we won’t be full strength until uni comes back,” he said.

“In the back line we’re short a couple, especially our fullback Rich Malone who was really strong in the Tablelands Cup. He’ll be missed.

“Fitness is really good. But it’s just the classic thing of Armidale sports teams where you get people coming and going. At least we’ve still got a core of people who are in town, like Jack Sartor and John Mahy.”

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