AN UPBEAT Josh Stapleton has forcefully backed several Merrivale youth prospects to stake their claim in Warrnambool’s top division of cricket.
The newly-appointed co-coach hopes increased opportunities for young talent can push the Tigers back into finals calculations after crashing out with a 10th place finish last season.
Stapleton took the top job alongside club stalwart Jeremy Burgess after former mentor Luke Gannon stepped down last year.
He denied his club was set for a full-scale rebuild, but said the Tigers would gift opportunities to youngsters who had trained through the off-season.
“We want to blood a bit of youth. We’ve got those systems in place and we have such strong juniors, so we want to give them time in the top division to flourish a bit,” Stapleton said.
“We’ve got plenty of colts-age players who have put their hand up and some under 15 players too – guys like Theo Opperman, Jack Burke and Jack Holley.
“They’re more than good enough. It’s about getting the games into them.”
Stapleton, an Old Collegians footballer, expected bowlers Sean Fary and Jarrod Petherick to improve their statistics.
The duo is likely to spearhead the Tigers’ bowling attack in the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association.
“Jarrod is one I’d expect to surge forward a little bit. He’ll open the bowling for us and deservedly so,” Stapleton said.
“He’s got great control and it’s the same with Sean.
“The experience does drop off a bit after myself and Jeremy, but I wouldn’t call it a rebuild. It’s more about blooding the youth we have.
“We’ll be pushing hard to win every game we play.”
They’re more than good enough. It’s about getting the games into them.Josh Stapleton