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Young gun leaders

Friday, 8th April, 2011

MAN IN CHARGE: Newly appointed South Captain Michael Westley at training yesterday, flanked by Vice Captains Marcus O’Brien and Jordan Staker MAN IN CHARGE: Newly appointed South Captain Michael Westley at training yesterday, flanked by Vice Captains Marcus O’Brien and Jordan Staker

By Darrin Manuel

The South Football Club will look to its youth for inspiration in 2011 after appointing a trio of young guns as club leaders.

Michael Westley will take over the captaincy from veteran Phil Neal, with Marcus O'Brien and Jordan Staker named as Vice Captains.

The trio were humbled by their appointments, and said they would look to the club's senior players for guidance as they take on the new roles.

"I'm a little bit surprised with (the decision) given the amount of boys who were in the running for the job," said Westley.

"But it's a complete privelege to be named Captain.

"I'll definitely be looking to take advice from the older lads, there'll be a lot of senior guys to give direction, but I think there's room to make few improvements as well."

Coach Robert Hickey said the captaincy decisions were made after a thorough consultation process with the playing group and club leaders, and predicted the appointments would have a positive effect on the club.

"It's a real new direction for these young blokes to take the leadership role on and lead the club into the future," he said.

"I think there's exciting times ahead. We've got some great senior players back in the group and our younger blokes are ready to step up."

The new leadership group should receive good support from a host of new recruits including John Dunn (Ceduna), Todd Sadler (Adelaide), and Justin Spratt (North). Former players Ty Corey, Bill Dolan and Aaron and Dylan Bow will also strengthen the team's line-up.

The gain in personnel has been tempered by some big losses however, with the retirement of Alan Mackiewicz and the loss of Tom Derham and Ben Degoumois certain to be significant to the team's structure.

Early signs show that the club has handled the personnel changes well, with the Roos taking out the Lightning Cup despite dropping a game to a rejuvenated West outfit.

Coach Hickey said the results reflected his team's approach to the pre-season competition.

"We went into it looking to win it. We've had around 35 players out on the track but we weren't just going to play everyone for the sake of it.

"It was a pleasing result on the day, although we got found out a bit against West with their pace."

The Cup win was the culmination of a pre-season dedicated to devising fresh strategies to take into game day.

"Our preseason has been based on improving skills and fitness, but we've also really been focusing on a few new gameplans... new structures across the ground," said Hickey.

"We're a small team so we'll have a running game plan which I'm sure everyone would be aware of."

The hard-running game plan will fit well with South's youthful playing group, and Hickey said it was this generation of players that would be the key to his side making gains in 2011.

"A lot of our improvement will come through our juniors like Schorn, Davis, Pettitt, Holmes, Davidson - they're all ready to step up to the mark.

"Arlen Bird is another one. He's completed his first full preseason for three years so I think he'll really improve this year.

"They've all had a few good years now and they're turning 18 and 19, so it's a good opportunity for them to really come in and have a crack."

Irrespective of his team's age, Hickey said his expectations were high for the Kangaroos.

Like other coaches, he predicted a great year ahead for footy fans with the competition looking much more even than in previous years.

"I believe we're good enough to win it, and our attitude towards all games will be to win at all costs," he said.

"I think it's going to be a very close and interesting season, and that's great for Broken Hill football.

"All four clubs should be around the mark and every team is going to have to be on their game from week to week."

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