Big challenge for Nomads in opener

By Matt Nicholls (Armidale Express, 09/04/2010)
New England Nomads coach Brendan Meehan says a win against the Tamworth Swans tomorrow would be the perfect way to kick off their 2010 Tamworth AFL (TAFL) season.

Meehan, in his third straight year as coach of the Nomads, said New England would travel with a less than full-strength side for the round one clash, but believed his team now had the depth to cover any major personnel losses.

“It’s going to be a tough game for us,” Meehan said.

“They are the reigning premiers and it’s on their home ground.

“But we are looking forward to the challenge and we know if we can get a win it will set our season up.”

With school and university holidays in full swing, the Nomads will be without a number of key players, including captain and key defender Nick Schultz.

However, Meehan said having a number of players unavailable would open the door for several newcomers and fringe players.

“It’ll be a good test for a lot of blokes and I’ll be interested to see how we go against a quality opponent.”

Club stalwart Ben Page will captain the side in Schultz’s absence, making a quicker than expected recovery from knee injury.

Page said he would likely play across half forward, with his fitness levels well below 100 per cent.

“I’m not fit enough to go in the midfield yet,” he said.

“To be honest I wasn’t expecting to play this early in the season.

“I had a run around in Tablelands Cup last month and the knee pulled up okay.”

After and impressive debut season in 2009, African export Omphile Temoso will continue to play in the ruck for the Nomads.

Meehan said he was still improving with each game.

“He’s still very raw but we saw in the Tablelands Cup he is a much smarter footballer than he was last season.

“His ground level work and kicking skills have come along in leaps and bounds.”

Meanwhile, young gun Caleb Dobos who has been with New England for several seasons, will pick up from where he left off last year at full forward.

Meehan said he threw Dobos into the goal square late last season as a ‘last resort’ and it paid big dividends, with the pint-sized player averaging four goals a game in the time he spent inside the forward 50.

A win against the Swans tomorrow at Tamworth No.1 Oval would provide a perfect kick-start to what is a tough opening for the Nomads.

While the Nomads enjoy a bye in round two, they then make the gruelling trip to Narrabri to take on the TAFL’s newest team in the Eagles.

After that, the Nomads host the Gunnedah Bulldogs before travelling to Muswellbrook.

Meehan said if his side could ‘guts out’ a win tomorrow, they could head into round six with a 5-nil record.

“Momentum is a big thing in footy and if we get a bit of confidence I think we could get a roll on,” he said.

“It all starts against the Swans and we’ll need to go there switched on and prepared for a tough game.”

Play starts at 2pm tomorrow.

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