Saturday, 5th April, 2014
By Ethan James
The winds of change appear to have swept through the North footy club, with coach Mark Pitt naming six A Grade debutants for the club’s opening game.
Dylan Harris, Scott Mateer, Cohen Bates, Malcolm Buckland, Nick Gibbs and Chad Spangler will play their first top grade game for the Bulldogs when they take on West today.
Only nine members of the 2013 flag winning side have been named in North’s round one team.
Ruck rover Codie Howard is one grand final winner who won’t be playing due to work commitments.
He admitted the Bulldogs “may start slowly” this season.
“We’ve obviously got a very young side which is pretty inexperienced,” Howard said.
“Our training has probably been a bit down as well due to a few injuries here and there.
“But it’s all about building towards the middle and end of the season and I’m sure the guys out on the field will do a great job.”
The Bulldogs failed to win a game in the Lightning Cup but played a host of youngsters in their three games.
The well-publicised departures of key players including 2013 Lionel Johnston medalist Heath Caldwell (North Adelaide), Lachlan Tiziani and Jordan Linnett (South) have left a void.
“They will be hard to replace as such but we’ve got a good group of juniors coming through and of course it gives them an opportunity,” Howard said.
After signing with Sunraysia League side Wentworth in the off season, Anthony ‘Wizz’ Henderson has been a notable addition at Bulldogs training.
But Howard was unsure when last year’s leading goal kicking will be seen on the field in Broken Hill, if at all.
“At this stage I believe he is still contracted to Wentworth and at the moment he won’t be playing,” he said.
The Robins touted a ‘culture shift’ in the off season and it will be interesting to see how the policy plays out on the field.
West’s pre-season form has been scratchy, with a 204-point loss to Wentworth in a trial game followed by one win over North in the Lightning Cup.
Greater Western Sydney Academy player Lachlan Harvey looms as a key man in the forward half of the field, while veteran Sam Hocking is again running around in the forward pocket.
Rylie McInnes is another to watch in the midfield with his fleet footwork.
Kick off for reserve grade is at 12.45pm with the main game to start at 2.30pm.
Admission is half price with Adults $5, Concession $3 and Kids $2.50.