Revamped Raiders rising up
TWEED Coast Raiders have welcomed a clutch of former juniors back to the club as it begins to rebuild after last year’s disappointing season.
To help guide the young side around the field, the Raiders have snared former Bulldogs and Rabbitohs player Matt Riddle for the 2011 season and lured the experienced Paul Abric back to the club after a stint with Bilambil Jets.
Teenagers Jamie Donaldson, Jackson Broadbent and Cody Hart have also returned to the club after playing under-19s for the Jets last season.
Club president Glen Winters will take the reins as coach and is looking forward to a busy NRRRL season.
The club launched back into training last week at its Cabarita Beach grounds and the players are in for a month of pain at the hands of strength and conditioning coach Michael McManemin.
“We have been training a week now and are getting good numbers, 30 to 40 players, to our training sessions,” Winters said.
“Fitness is something we are going to be focusing on for the first month of the pre-season, we will get that up to scratch and then start working on ball work and combinations before the trials in March.”
Winters isn’t ready to put the weight of expectation on his young side and said the club was still on the lookout for experienced players.
“It is a rebuilding year for us and there is no major expectation for the moment,” he said.
“We are just going to rebuild and make sure the boys are playing good football. I don’t want to predict where we may end up
“With guys like Matt Riddle and Paul Abric, their experience is going to help the younger guys out a lot,” he said.
“We have got a fairly young team, so we need a couple more experienced players there to help guide the team around. We’re still talking to various players we know in the area.”
The Lanston twins, Guy and Drew, Raiders juniors who have starred for the Jets in recent years, are working in North Queensland, but have told Winters they will turn out for the Raiders this season if they return to the Tweed.
Plenty of Raiders from last season, including Josh Togo, Aaron Laycock and Cale Rowston, will be back and the club will have A grade, reserve grade and under-18 teams in the NRRRL.
“Our aim this year was to get three teams back on the field,” Winters said. “We will have the three teams playing this year, and we will be competitive in all three grades.”