While the North Eastern Australian Football League kicked off last weekend, the Queanbeyan Tigers had the bye. This Saturday they begin their campaign against Sydney University at Dairy Farmers Oval. Queanbeyan Age sports reporter Joshua Matic caught up with Tigers co-coach Kade Klemke during the week.
JM: Kade, you've got the first game of the season coming up. Generally speaking how is the team shaping up?
KK: We've had a good pre-season. Not too many injuries which is good. It's going to be tough to pick a side for round one. Everyone's had a good pre-season, but it's a great thing as a coach to have problems picking your side.
JM: Do you have a full squad available for round one?
KK: We have a full squad except for Ben King. He hurt his knee in the practice match in Wagga, so he will miss a few weeks.
JM: Is there a contest for his position?
KK: Losing Kaine Stevens last year it leaves a few holes, because Kingy is one of our main clearance players. We've had a few guys that have put their hand up over the pre-season and we're a bit unsure who will fill his role. We've still got Greigs and we've still got Conroy to go through the mid-field, but there'll definitely have to be someone there.
It might be Daniel Johnson or Toby Richards that might fill that role.
JM: Who are some of the young guns that you'd like to see play NEAFL this season?
KK: Guys like Kieran Shea, Steven Camp. These guys are hitting 20 and they got a full year with half seniors and half reserves last year and had a good pre-season, so I'm looking forward to seeing those guys. One that's really impressed me is also Sam Adams. He plays footy as well as basketball. He has a lot to show. I think he'll get a lot better as the year goes on. He'd be a mid-fielder. He's showing good signs.
JM: Josh Bryce has given young guns Levi Power and Brandon Lagana raps in the past. How do you think they will fit in the squad?
KK: Levi's been great in practice matches, and I'm really happy with his game. He gives us that drive from the back and uses the ball really well. Brandon's another young guy that's still in the under 18's and it just shows you how hard it's going to be to pick for round one with all these guys putting their hands up.
JM: Who are your losses for this season?
KK: We've lost a few players. Kaine Stevens is a big loss for us, and James Kavanah is another big loss for us.
There's some big losses there, but with the guys we've recruited, they've got a massive input into our team and they seem to fit in really well.
JM: With the NEAFL no longer split into Northern and Eastern conferences, are the boys looking forward to facing teams from the north they haven't seen a lot of in the past?
KK: Travel will be more or less the same as last season as we've only been drawn to play a Queensland team once.
Travelling is hard for players with their families, but to play top level footy you have to do it. Personally I love travelling up to Queensland. It's a good experience and we enjoy the warm weather up there.