K rock Football

Centrals go early with team

Werribee Centrals coach Nick Smith speaks to his players during the first semi-final win over Inverleigh in 2019. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

WERRIBEE Centrals haven’t left players hanging when it comes to selection for Saturday’s season-opener against Geelong West at Galvin Park.

Centurions co-coach Nick Smith revealing the senior twenty-two for the clash with the Giants was named on Tuesday night.

And it will take on a different look to the Centrals’ side that took to St Albans Reserve for the preliminary final loss to Bannockburn in September 2019.

There are seven club debutants, including key forward James Gough, who has secured a clearance from Eastern League club Fairpark.

“We had a Plan B in place because you never know how they’re going to play out, but he was always hopeful that he was going to get cleared,” Smith said.

“To be honest, our biggest struggle was how we fit him into what we already thought was going to be a pretty strong team.

“He’s had an interrupted pre-season with us because he’s been travelling from Belgrave.

“But, we’re trusting that his quality and experience will be able to slot into what is a pretty strong Round 1 team for us.”

Also pulling on the green and gold for the first time are co-coach Rhyce Prismall and fellow former Werribee Districts players Tyler Crennan, Matt Wilkinson and Jake Pettitt, along with Dylan Harberger (Manor Lakes) and Patrick Daley.

Bryce Linehan-Cunningham has also been named for his second senior game after debuting in early 2017.

“There will be a lot of new faces, which made for a little bit of a challenging night,” Smith said.

“Some players who usually are senior players were named in the twos for the first time in a while.”

After injury-interrupted pre-seasons, Marc Yates (Glen Orden) and David Stretton (Ocean Grove) will start in the reserves, while Brad Neurath (Portarlington) and 2018 best-and-fairest Jackson Smith, who has been battling illness, won’t play.

Smith says after more than 18 months off, it’s impossible to have a handle on your opposition each week.

“I’ve said to my players all we can control is who we are, what we do and how we play, and that’s what we’re going to focus on for that first time through the draw,” he said.

“I think we’re going to be running into teams that are totally different to the last time you played. And I guess there’s an element that we’ll be fairly different, too.

“We think we’ve got better, but then we also understand that it sounds like most teams have as well.

“In the end, we think our best will be good enough, and that’s what we need to roll out in Round 1.”

Twitter: @tom_king79