U18 TAC Cup Squad

Story thanks to Star Weekly

New Northern Knights coach Justin Wenke is refreshed and ready.

The Knights late last month announced the signing of the former Oakleigh Chargers mentor as a replacement for Andrew Shakespeare.

Wenke, who coached the Chargers to the 2012 TAC Cup premiership, took a break from coaching at the end of the 2014 season.

Speaking in his first week at the Knights, Wenke said he was getting down to business.

“It’s been busy so far,” he said. “Most of the hard work is done in the pre-season … I’ve been speaking to a lot of players one-on-one.

“I’ve refreshed the batteries. I have a real passion for TAC Cup and got a renewed energy – hopefully I’ll make an impact at the club. I want to go in and have a good look and get my hands dirty.”

Wenke said it would be a bit of a new beginning for the club, with a new coach and a relatively new talent manager.

He said the outfit was aiming to be recognised by its competitors as the benchmark junior talent development program.

Wenke said the players would be put through a longer pre-season than was usual at the club.

“We’re going to do some different things,” he said. “We’ll do AFL benchmark testing, which they haven’t done before, and there will be a two-day camp as well.

“I’ll be able to bring some strong training standards and a new culture.

“There are a lot of new assistant coaches, who will be finalised in the next few weeks.”

Wenke said more than 20 players from this year’s playing group would return next year.

“About 22 bottom-agers will be top-agers next season,” he said. “We’ve got a good list of bottom-age players who tasted some footy this year

“We’ve got about 90 players invited for pre-season and there’ll be some new top-agers in that.”

Knights talent manager Rhy Gieschen said Wenke’s extensive knowledge of the northern region would be vital.

“This program is about bringing in the best possible talent, and I firmly believe we have,” Gieschen said. “He fully understands the direction we are wanting to head and I have full confidence that he will be the man to take us forward in that direction.

“His knowledge of the game, desire to develop players and people, and ability to be honest and forthright in his communication will be a real asset to this program. ”

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