Sport

New coach same goal

By Southern Riverina News

Finley will be aiming for more success in the Murray League, after finishing third on the ladder last year.

Although the Cats were one of the stronger teams in 2018, they did bow out of finals in straight sets but will be hoping they can improve with a new coach at the helm.

It will be Tom Doyle’s first year as a senior coach, however he says that won’t stop him from mirroring last year’s season.

Finley has been able to sign ruckman Tim Robertson who has returned to the town and goal kicking strong bodied midfielder Liam Hickey, who is a former Murray Bushranger.

The senior side will be without 2018 Best & Fairest and captain Lachy Small, who is moving to Maroochydore, and brothers Angus and Nick Robertson will be playing in Claremont, Western Australia and Birchip-Watchem respectively.

The Cats have retained most of the stronger players from last year and developing players coming through, with Doyle saying the senior side will still be aiming to play finals.

‘‘There is a bigger focus on development as we have less senior Melbourne guys coming up to play so we’re trying to build from the ground up.

‘‘That means more local guys playing and the younger senior players who have finished playing thirds football coming through as well.

‘‘We’ve had really good numbers to pre-season training already. In the years we challenged for the flag you might have seen on average 12 guys but this year we have fit keen young players coming down so I’m pretty upbeat about that.

‘‘We’ll have a few less stars but we have at least 30 guys that can put their hand up for senior footy.’’

Doyle will be a playing-coach taking over from the experienced non playing coach Rob Daniel.

Former Deni Rovers senior coach Nick Braybon and Jarrod Gray will also help in assistant coaching roles.

Doyle said he’s learned lessons from his predecessor which can be implemented into his side.

‘‘I played a bit under Rob (Daniel) and I’m a big fan of the way he does things. A lot of what I’ve learnt from Rob will still stay a big part of our core philosophy.

‘‘Rob won’t have an active role, he’ll be there behind the scenes and has offered to help whenever I need it.’’

Doyle has played across the oval as a utility player in full forward, full back and in the ruck and will play this season ‘‘wherever needed’’.

The Cats have their first three scheduled home games of the year under lights against Rumbalara on March 30, Cobram on April 13 and Tungamah on April 27.

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In netball, the A grade side has been almost completely cleared from last year losing seven of the eight main players.

Veterans Renee Phelan and Toni Campbell will miss for personal reasons/pregnancy, while younger stars Chelsea McDonald (2018 A grade coach), Chelsea Taylor and Eloise Ashley-Cooper are at university, and Abbey Maconanchie is studying.

Sivannah Wilson is the only player to remain. She will most likely be joined by Maicie Close and Lauren Yeo.

Despite losing so many players, netball president Kerry McDonald said there were young B grade players ‘‘knocking on the door of A grade’’ who will fill the spots.

‘‘I expect Shania Bentley, Holly Robinson and Tiarna Burke to all step up. Ruby Russell from the juniors has a chance of starting as well.

‘‘Veteran leader Helene Steward will most likely be playing A grade and she has played at the top level in the past.

‘‘Many of these young girls were in the mix for A grade selection last year so even though we lost most of the A grade team from 2018 at least we have the depth to fill the roles.’’