U18 TAC Cup Squad

Story thanks to Preston Leader.

A NEW culture and vibe is taking over the Northern Knights and the club is hoping it will reap the benefits during the coming TAC Cup season.

After finishing last in 2016 with just four wins to their name, the Knights rung the changes with Justin Wenke taking over as senior coach and a host of other new coaches coming in.

Talent manager Rhy Gieschen said the new focus was about more than just improving the club’s win-loss record­.

“We want to be perceived as one of the best development programs in Australia,” he said.

“We are trying to create a quality, hardworking culture and a galvanised playing group that wants to get the best out of themselves.

“Not only for individual success, but team success as well.”

Wenke has been joined at Northern by assistant coaches Phil Plunkett, Marcus Hastings and Peter Buszard.

With the brand new coaching staff, Gieschen said the players had been put through an extra six or seven sessions before Christmas.

“It was really important to have those additional sessions to get used to each other and the way we want to play and move the football,” he said.

Part of the coaching staff’s optimism for the season ahead has stemmed from the club using many bottom-age players last year.

“We are really fortunate to have a core group of players who played some pretty high level TAC Cup football,” Gieschen­ said.

“We hope those players who had key roles for us last year will hold them in good stead to continue their form in 2017.”

Among those are potential Richmond father-son prospect Patrick Naish, who was in the US with the AFL Academy earlier this month.

“We expect him to really come on this year. He has shown vast improvement over the preseason already,” Gieschen said.

The Knights are also excited about Ethan Penrith (West Preston), who won the club’s best defensive player award last year, Nick Coffield (Eltham) and Joel Naylor (Whittlesea), who could become­ one of the competition’s best key position players.

The club is set to name its 55-man squad next month.

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