High hopes for senior sides

Preview. A flurry of new recruits and a solid pre-season has Van Diemen’s Land Smithton Saints senior coach Jarrod Watling quietly optimistic for the season ahead.

Entering into his second season in the top position, assisted this year by former reserves coach Lyle Elliott, Watling believes his squad will be extremely competitive and set high expectations for the year.

“As a team, we’ve gained a lot of height, which has been an issue for us in the past,” Watling said.

“We’ve also had an injection of speed added to the side, which is really going to suit our game plan.

“If we play well, get a bit of luck and have no injuries, I could see us finishing in the top two.”

The Saints’ senior, reserves and U/19 sides all finished in fourth on the ladder last season, but all were knocked out in the first round of finals.

Despite admitting the loss of key forward Damien Medwin to State League side Northern Bombers was a tough blow to the line-up, Watling said the club’s pre-season recruiting had more than made up for the attacking hole left behind.

The one thing that’s been at Smithton since I started . . . we’ve always been very strong defensively,” he said. “We haven’t ever been a really high-scoring team.

“[Now] We have four or five guys who are very capable of kicking 30-40 goals for the season.”

Watling named 2013 grand finalist Wynyard as “a powerhouse” in terms of main competitors this season, while also predicting Latrobe and Ulverstone to be in the mix for the race to the finals.

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