The Great Southern Football League suffered a major blow just a day out from its 2012 Landmark Country Football Championship opener against Eastern Districts with midfielder Leon Wilson and key forwards Taylor Powell and Tyler Stone all withdrawing.
Powell could not get time off work, Stone is unavailable and Wilson stated soreness as his reason for withdrawal.
GSFL senior coach Raymond Joy described the last minute changes as frustrating but would not be put off by the fact the squad had changed nearly every day in the past week.
“It is frustrating when blokes pull out so close to the start,” Joy said. “But we are full of kids … we are still good enough to go well.”
This year’s GSFL team is vastly different from the one that lost the division 2 semifinal by 25 points to Avon last year but Joy is confident the team compiled can help return them to division 1.
Captain Sam Lehmann will once again lead the side with fellow midfielder Ryan Kinnear his deputy, while Joy said the inclusions of ruckman Kayne Hamilton, Stuart Myers and former Kleemann Medallist Graham Ross would add significant experience to a side littered with young GSFL stars.
Joy saidthe quality of football in the GSFL and the development of fast, attacking play will hold them in good stead in division 2.
“The quality of football in the league should carry us a long way into the carnival,” he said.
“These sides are traditional A-section sides and we need to be beating these sides in front of us to get us back up there.”
The GSFL meet Eastern Districts at East Fremantle Oval at 10am this morning and despite beating them by 10 points in the same match last year, Joy was expecting a tough encounter.
“They will be big, strong, and fast as well,” he said.
“We need to take the pressure in the first half and then wear them down with fitness, playing on and sharing the ball around.”