New look Nomads to defend cup

By James Polson (Armidale Express, 27/03/2009)
With the Australian Football League kicking off for 2009 last night local fans will get their chance to catch some footy tomorrow when the New England Nomads host the annual Tablelands Cup pre-season tournament.

Teams from Tamworth, Nambucca Heads, Inverell, Gunnedah and Sawtell will also be vying for the trophy.

The Nomads won the title last year but will head into tomorrow’s play as a somewhat unknown quantity, with a number of players missing due to other commitments and also several new faces in the squad.

Club president Ben Page said the Nomads will be using the cup as a gauge to see where the side are at ahead of the season opener in May.

“It won’t be our strongest team on the paddock,” he said.

“We’ll be giving the new guys a taste of what it’s all about – we also don’t know how strong a side the other clubs will have but we hope to give a good account of ourselves.”

The Nomads have lost a number of key players since last season but have been impressed with the numbers at training.

Traditionally boasting a large core of university players, Page said this year the Nomads had around half as many students as in previous years.

“We’ve probably got five or six on the books,” he said.

“In the past we’ve had a dozen or more.

“But (coach) Brendan Meehan has been over the moon with how many we’ve had at training.”

Page said the Tablelands Cup may need a rethink for next year, with the Nomads being forced to turn a number of clubs away for the first time.

“We’re looking at maybe a full weekend for next year,” he said.

“We’ve had a really good response this year.”

The Nomads play their first match against the Tamworth Swans at 9.15 tomorrow morning, before facing the Sawtell Saints at 1pm.

The grand final is scheduled for 4.20 with a presentation and barbecue to follow at the Wicklow Hotel.

The Nomads are still hunting for new players and anyone interested is encouraged to turn up to training on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5.30pm at Bellevue Oval or contact Page on 0429 682-001.

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