Bundaberg Spirit’s Brett Kitching controls the ball away from Whitsunday Miners’ Jamie White in a match this year.
Bundaberg Spirit’s Brett Kitching controls the ball away from Whitsunday Miners’ Jamie White in a match this year. Mike Knott

Spirit eager for a victory

AFTER four lean seasons, Bundaberg Toyota Spirit coach Tony Roebuck believes they can finally be a force in the Queensland State League in 2012.

The Spirit finished second last this year after winning just one match and they have lost two of their best and most experienced players to knee injuries, Laurie Stephenson and Lucas Read.

But Roebuck is delighted that Stephenson has taken on the role of technical coach, joining new assistant coach Peter Martin, and that Read will be assistant to continuing Youth team mentor Steve Bates.

"I think one of the good things will be having good experience in the coaching staff through the addition of Ready, Laurie and Marty, who has been there and done it before - the coaching network will be invaluable too," Roebuck said.

"We have also lost Jacob Miles, who was our Most Improved Player and one of our good under-19s coming through has gone to Brisbane for university reasons, John Cullen has possibly gone to Brisbane as well and Scott McEwan has gone to the mines for work.

"But Kitchy ( foundation captain Brett Kitching) and (Shane) Youngberry have been there since day one and they have been training hard since we started three months ago every Thursday night between different classes at the YMCA and boxing at the PCYC.

"They have also been doing a lot of their own stuff and learnt to manage their bodies as well which is good too.

"Obviously also Johny Brillante, Corey Haack, Luke Leggett, Matt Mills, Jack Hambrecht, Jason de Papi and 'Squeak' in goal, Jason McEwan, the nucleus of the side, have had another year's experience playing at this level and will definitely be better for it.

"Young ones like Brendan Davies and Josh Metcalf and Elliot Causer have trained hard too and if they get in form, they can be dangerous as well."

Roebuck said that the club was in good shape with Bundaberg Toyota and Volkswagen principal David Hillier continuing as their major sponsor since the Spirit's foundation and he was also "excited about what the new year is going to bring".

He also said they were hopeful of securing the services of "two or three quality out of town players by the end of January".

"It is a case of finding the right players to suit what we need, but at the moment, Batesy has brought a lot of under-19s into the squad," he said.

"We had a trial match in November between Maryborough and Hervey Bay and Bundaberg and brought in a lot of those young players to replenish those who have stepped up or are now too old for the Youth League."

Official pre-season training three days a week will start at the ATW Sports Complex, which will again be their home ground next season, on January 9.

With the season start date tentatively set for March 10, Roebuck has already planned trial games for February 4 at home against Noosa and Sunshine Coast Fire in Hervey Bay on February 25.

His goal for the team for the new season is to finish "mid-table or above".

"I believe we had the potential to do that this year but we were pretty severely done by injuries - we lost a lot of players but a good run injury-wise would be nice and if we can, both squads are very strong with a good mix of players in there and a lot of talent," he said.

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