- Written by Walter Pless
- Published: 27 March 2014
Photo: Glenorchy Knights coach Chris Hey (right) and goalkeeper Alex Woodham at Thursday's media conference [PlessPix]
South Hobart begin their defence of the Victory League title when they travel to KGV Park tonight to take on Glenorchy Knights in the opening league game of the season.
South Hobart will come up against their former players, Shae Hickey and goalkeeper Sam Kruijver, for the first time since they left the league champions.
Photo: South Hobart captain Hugh Ludford (left) and coach Ken Morton at Thursday's pre-game media conference at KGV Park [PlessPix]
But, Knights will be missing several players, while South Hobart should be at full strength.
The Knights will be without the injured Jayden Hey (leg), Callen Griffin (groin) and David Hoppitt (groin), while Jeremy Marshall has university commitments and Ben Robinson athletics commitments.
The Knights have recruited well in the off-season, the newcomers being Hickey, Kruijver, Joel Schuth, Nick Di Falco, Paul Wilcock, Aaron Wilson, Harry Woolley, David Hoppitt and Tyler Harrison.
They were unimpressive in the Summer Cup, however, and were knocked out of the Milan Lakoseljac Memorial Trophy in last week’s opening round.
They lack thrust up front, despite the signing of Schuth from Kingborough Lions United and Woolley from Olympia Warriors.
Photo: Knights coach Chris Hey is thrilled at the success and exposure of the Victory League [PlessPix]
“I think the attitude within the club is a lot better than it was last year,” said Knights coach,” Chris Hey.
“If you’ve got that sort of attitude around the playing group, you’ve got half the battle won.
“We’ve got several players out, and they’re [South Hobart] a brilliant side.
“They’re my tip to win it again this season.
“Ken brings out consistency in his teams, week in week out. He’s got tremendous depth and it’s going to be a tough ask for us.
“We certainly hope to improve this year. We’ve got the squad to do it and we’ll just see how things go as from Friday night.
“Our guys will give it the best they possibly can. We just need to be positive in our minds and put that little white thing in the back of the net.
“We’ll adopt a cautious approach to start with and feel them out.
“We must maintain possession and use the ball well.”
Photo: Knights coach Chris Hey said the spirit in his squad is better than last year [PlessPix]
Hey said Hickey was a tremendous acquisition with his professionalism on and off the field and his technical qualities, but time was needed for him to adapt to the team.
South Hobart coach Ken Morton is hoping for another successful year.
“I hope we can do better than last year, but it’ll certainly be difficult,” Morton said.
“It was a stellar year for us last year and we played some good football on the way there and, certainly, in the final games of the season we were in good form.
“It’s a difficult task ahead for us but we’ll certainly look forward to the challenge.
‘We’ve had quite a turnover of players. We’ve lost a few and gained a few quality players as well.
“We’ve brought in Curran Ferns and Connor Kass from Melbourne. Locally, Hugh Undy has been a good pickup for us and, obviously, Brayden Mann and Andy Brennan are really good signings.
“Yeah. We’ve got some good pickups, but some big losses.
“Lucas Hill is a big loss for us - a young centre-back who is powerful and strong and quick, so we’ll miss him a little bit.
Photo: South Hobart coach Ken Morton wants his team to do even better this year [PlessPix]
“But again, Paul Stevens comes in there and, again, another youngster with talent.
“We were disappointed at Shae Hickey’s departure because Shae has been a super player for us.
“But, he’s got a challenge ahead of him now and he wanted that challenge at Knights so he went with our best wishes and we hope he does well, except on Friday night.
“He’s a quality lad and I’m sure he’ll be a big player for them.”
South have injury worries surrounding Matt Lewis (ankle), Ludford (hip) and Hugh Undy (hip),
Striker Ben Hamlett is suspended for the first two games.
“Most of the top players will start and we’ll try and get an hour out of them,” said Morton.
“We’ve had a disappointing pre-season, and maybe Knights would say the same thing, but when the season kicks off, the first game of the round, the first game of the Victory League season, everybody is up for that challenge.
“I’m sure Knights will be in this game and there to pick up three points, and we’ll be no different.
“We’ll go into the game with our ideas on how we think we can win the game and we’ll put them into practice and work hard and see if we can get off to a good start this year.
“We need to be as high as we can in Tasmania, and that’s number one, and we need to be in the upcoming Australian National Premier Leagues championship.
“That’s our aim and that’s our goal.”
Kick-off is at 8pm at KGV Park.