PORTLAND and Hamilton Kangaroos will today get the first taste of their new competition when they line up in the Hampden Football Netball League’s pre-season cup at Port Fairy.
All 10 HFNL clubs will field teams in the round robin senior footy and netball competitions at Port Fairy’s Gardens Oval.
Portland coach Jarrod Holt revealed he had to discourage some players from making the trip such was the interest among his list.
“We’re looking forward to it,” he said.
“It should be good.
“We’ve got 26 or 27 that are committed to playing.”
He said he had rested a few players ahead of full-scale practice matches in coming weeks. “I’ve even turned a few boys away, a few of the senior boys. We’ve got a lot of young guys.”
He said the Tigers’ squad for today’s matches against Koroit at 10.40am and Hamilton at 2pm would include exciting midfielder Beau Bentley, former North Ballarat Rebels players Jaydon Stiles and Ben Malcolm, Tyrendarra recruits defender Charlie Woodford and midfielder Scott Clark, teenage midfielder Jordan Kane and defenders Luke and Justin Van Heugten.
“We will give everyone a run,” said Holt, who will watch from the sidelines.
All clubs have told The Standard this week they will use the competition to test younger players and ease senior players back into competitive work.
Several are taking cautious approaches with senior players, including defending premier Warrnambool, which will be without Maskell Medal winner Tim Hunt and the competition’s leading goalkicker Jason Rowan.
Promising teenager Otto Opperman, touted for senior exposure this season, won’t be available as he is playing with Merrivale in the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association division one grand final.
His cricket teammate Adam Melville, a South Warrnambool premiership player, is also preferring cricket over footy.
Most clubs have players unavailable because of cricket commitments, including Terang Mortlake, which has several involved in South West Cricket semi-finals. Grand finalist Cobden is another, with the town’s division one cricket side facing a knockout semi-final.
The senior netball cup competition will be played alongside the footy for the first time today with the junior competition next week. South Warrnambool and Camperdown won’t be represented today while Koroit, Port Fairy and Cobden will field two each.
The netball action opens at 9.50am with the grand final scheduled for 3.55pm. The first football match kicks off at 9am with the final listed for a 5.20pm start.