Saints to soldier on without big names
Multiple premiership-winning coach, Russ Matthews, will return to the coaches box, as the club tries to allay fears that the Saints have reached the peak of their powers.
These claims may have some backing, as their first grade side will miss arguably three of their best players from last season. Luke Matthews is currently travelling around the country whilst young star, Michael Bibby has relocated to Brisbane to play for Redlands FC in the AFL Queensland competition. Throw into the mix, the club's leading goalkicker, Robbie Zeegers, who is yet to begin serving his 16 week suspension, there is a mountain of experience and ability missing from the squad this season.
The trio dominated the competition in hard ball gets, tackling and marking stats each weekend; plus their ability to win the ball has few peers on the North Coast in recent years. Sawtell will find it almost impossible to replace the attacking trio and undoubtedly clubs will aim to exploit this perceived weakness.
However, according to vice-president and last-years coach, Stephen Jackson, Sawtell are well placed to fill the void. "We are excited by the quality of our Under 16 and 18 players coming through the ranks," he commented. "This will force more competition for places this season throughout the side."
Jackson also identified that off the field was where the biggest improvement needed to occur.
Dean Taylor has taken over as president and the new coaching panel led by Matthews, will also consist of Mark Taylor and Les Cohen as assistant coaches.
Again, the Saints have identified Port Macquarie as their main competition and will be keen to seek revenge when the two sides will meet in a Grand Final replay in Round 4 at Richardson Park.
The narrow loss will no doubt bruise the side that won the previous two premierships. Their depth throughout the grades will put them in a good position to contest the premiership again this season and will undoubtedly need fringe players like Daniel Pritchard to step up and take more of a leadership role in the midfield.
Sawtell are a proud club that are renowned for a consistent and full-hearted performance each time they step on the paddock. This should see them well and truly in the mix comes finals time again this season.