Photos (Top to Bottom): Metro's Aaron Marney is unlikely to play against Nelson; Northern NSW coaching director David Smith and FFT CEO John Boulous examine Olympia's new artificial pitch yesterday; Portable goals are being used for training and a 68m x 6m fence will be built at this end of the ground; Looking at the goal at the Bligh Street end of the ground; David Smith (left) and John Boulous (right) discuss the new ground with Olympia president George Mamacas. The ground will not be used for the Summer Cup series [PlessPix]
South Hobart begin their defence of the Summer Cup when they take on Clarence United in the opening round of the competition at KGV Park on Saturday at 2pm in a Group B match.
At first glance, this seems an easy fixture for South Hobart, who won all five trophies on offer last season.
But, this is 2011 and not last season and things have changed.
Clarence have certainly been weakened by a number of departures, but South Hobart will also be missing some key players from last season.
And, Clarence have had some good cup results against South Hobart in the past, so nothing can be taken for granted.
In a departure from last season’s format, this season’s Summer Cup matches will be 90 minutes in duration and sides will need to be up to speed from the start of the tournament if they are to do well.
“Saturday’s team will be fairly strong,” said South Hobart coach, Ken Morton, whose team will also be in action on Sunday in Launceston in the Steve Hudson Cup series.
“Mostly the senior squad from last year will play, and I think that’s only fair, considering the efforts of last year and pre-season so far.
“On Sunday, we’ll take a fairly young side, but most of them have played Premier League.
“We’ll be fairly strong across the board on Saturday. We’re in both competitions to win them, but we’re still having to juggle to get people through the weekends. We’re not wanting to put too much stress on people.
“The only one that is a doubt is Luke Huigsloot [the former Clarence player], who is injured.
“It looks something like Moncur, Pennicott, Brown, Ludford, Loic, and if Huigsloot plays, it’ll be him, Roach and Hickey, and then Brennan, Kanakaris and Lo. It’s fairly strong. Hugo Bladel will be in there, too.”
Ben Parker is the new captain of Clarence and he will lead the side with his usual no-nonsense approach.
Chris Tsakiris is likely to play, as are two new 17-year-olds, including Will Malovnek, while Trent Cornish will be in goal.
“The rest have all played before,” said Clarence coach, Andrew Brown. “Some reserve players will be stepping up.
“I have no idea how we’ll go as we’ve only been training for four weeks.
“I expect we’ll cause a few problems and I also suspect we may run out of legs.
“But, either way, we’ll go out there and try and win it. It’s a cup game, and you’ve got to win cup games.
“We’ll go out and attack South Hobart and see what happens. We’re looking forward to it.”
The noon match at KGV Park is between Tilford Zebras and University in Group A.
Zebras have recruited at least eight new players over the summer and should be much too strong for University, who have lost coach Kevan Wright, who has moved to Broome in his employment for three months.
Liam Scott and Sam McIntyre are two of the recruits who should see action against University.
In an all-Division One clash at North Chigwell at noon, Nelson Eastern Suburbs from Group B meet Metro from Group D. This is a cross-group pairing because these groups have only three teams each.
Metro will field German exchange student, 17-year-old Lars Engisch, and NSW newcomer Lee Yuell, as well as Adam Woodward and Nathan Daniels.
Jayden Wiggins and Aaron Marney are injured and are unlikely to play, which means Kye McQueen and Geoff Wicks will probably get a run.
Nelson will be without midfielders Bill Hanley, Andrew Gaskell and Pat Lenck, all of whom are unavailable.
Under-19s from last year, Henry French, Max Caulfield, Rhys Endall and Joel Dredge will come into the starting eleven.
Ollie Burdon has taken over in goal after impressing in the pre-season work, while Adam Mills will skipper the side, which includes his younger brother, Ryan, 18, who was last year’s top scorer.
Another brother, 23-year-old Nathan Mills, is also in the side. He is a former State youth player who switched to AFL and played for the Mariners.
Nelson hope to include 14-year-old Troy Westbury in their squad, providing he is cleared to play by Football Federation Tasmania.
The 2pm game at North Chigwell pits Premier League opponents Glenorchy Knights and New Town Eagles against each other in a Group D match.
Knights will be without Corey Smith, who still has a 2-game suspension to serve, while Jade Clay and James Hope have cricket commitments.
Jason Dawes, signed from Metro, is injured and may need a knee reconstruction.
Callen Griffin also has a knee injury and will be absent.
The Knights squad is likely to be: Ben Peter, Will Roberts, Jacob Huigsloot, Alex Holmes, Lindsay Millington, Brendon Garth, Andrew Robb, Jackson Marsh, Matthew Nowicki, Matthew Russell, Tom Sherman, Brad Grainger, Trent Delaney, Peter Frank, Daniel Langdale.
Eagles are without seven players and will be hard-pressed to win.
Shane Kent, Alex Leszczynski, Michael Anderson, Nick Ferrall, Mark Page, Chris Wass and Alex Gordon are all unavailable due to holidays, work or injury.
“We will be very competitive and it will be great to see some of the young players stepping up,” said an optimistic Eagles coach, George Krambousanos.
The Group A clash between Beachside and Taroona at Olinda Grove No. 1 Ground at 2pm should be interesting. Beachside were promoted to Premier League at the end of last season and Taroona were relegated to Division One, so there is a lot to prove for both sides.
Beachside coach Brett Pullen said: “I will be able to field a strong side and will be closely looking at some of the new, young players over this Summer Cup period.
“The Cup will be a great opportunity for me to look at how I will blend our experienced players with the new youth available.
“It will also give me the opportunity to introduce our new signings.
“The regulars at training have included Michael Soszynski, Nathan Robinson, Ben Davis, Patrick Dunne and Jamie Pennicott, but Bernhard Klasen, Luke Atkin and Colin Shepherd will miss this pre-season series.
“That will give some of the new, young players the opportunity to prove themselves.
“I also congratulate FFT on the format for this year. The interchange, the flexibility between seniors and reserves, and the 90-minute games will make the cup a great pre-season competition.”
Olympia Warriors come up against Hobart United in a Group C encounter at Olinda Grove No. 2 Ground at noon.
Olympia’s morale will have improved after their 1-0 win over Ulverstone in the Steve Hudson Cup in Launceston last Sunday and they should just scamper over the line against Hobart United.
Kingborough Lions United should be much too strong for DOSA in their Group C match at Olinda Grove No. 2 Ground at 2pm.